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tester of Maxihattwa 


The Life of Richard Croker 

COPYRIGHT, t<)0t> THE S, 8. McfttmE CO. 

IN 1901 

M A S T E R O F 

The Life of Richard Croker 



Author of "The. Ruing Tide of Color" "Re-Forging America" 





















XIII. "HONEST GRAFT".* ..,.>.' 120 
















NOTES 262 


INDEX 277 


Richard Croker in 1901 Frontispiece 

Tammany Hall, 1 830 Facing page 10 

Shanty-town 18 

Bowery Glimpses in its Heyday 28 

The Shooting of Bill Poole 32 

Draft Rioters Marching down Second Avenue. ... 32 

William Marcy Tweed 38 

John T. Hoffman 38 

"Honest John "Kelly 50 

His Grace, the Duke of Tammany 66 

Richard Croker in the Early Nineties 74 

A Tammany Souvenir 94 

Richard Croker's Stock-farm at Richfield Springs, 

N.Y 128 

Richard Croker's House in 74th Street 1 28 

"Satan's Circus" Sixth Avenue at 3 A.M 132 

Mr. Croker at the Races 168 

Croker' s Tammany Hall 1 84 

The Wreck of the Pirate Ship, November, 1901 . . . 252 

The Ex-King on the Turf 258 


J% "aster of <^(Canhattan 



IT WAS a crisp autumn afternoon of the year 1 846 when the 
packet Henry 70y, three weeks out from Queenstown, Ire- 
land, entered the harbor of New York. As the trim craft 
slipped past the Narrows and sailed up the bay, her decks 
were black with an immigrant throng. Irish peasant-folk 
they were, fleeing from blight and famine. 

Eager to be ashore after the long sea voyage, the immi- 
grants had fetched their luggage from below and stood or 
sat in groups about their scant belongings, talking or gazing 
open-mouthed at the wide panorama of bay and land and 
sky. It was a peaceful scene. No towering skyscrapers awed 
the voyager from afar j no Statue of Liberty greeted the new- 
comer with uplifted torch j no babel of hooting tugs pro- 
claimed the commercial gateway to the New World. In- 
stead, the bay was flecked with sails, Staten Island was a 
quiet realm of farms and wooded hills, Brooklyn a small 
town, while a few villages clustered here and there along 
the Jersey shore. Only the lower tip of Manhattan teemed 
with a bustling energy foreshadowing the mighty growth 
that was to be. 

As the Henry Z#y drew abreast of Governor's Island, 
the drone of the city came across the water to the immigrants' 
straining ears. Yet, from that angle, there could be no gaug- 


Ing of its size; since in those days New York was a city 
of brick or wooden houses seldom more than three stories 
high, with church spires rising, here and there ? above a 
jumble of pitched or gabled roofs. Furthermore, the broad 
expanse of Battery Park, fringed by fine old trees toward 
Bowling Green, masked Manhattan's southern tip, pleasantly 
screening what lay behind. 

Up toward the bow of the packet stood a family group: 
man, wife, and clutter of goods and children. Not a dis- 
tinguished group, yet obviously a bit above the run of those 
around them. The father was a brawny man with that in- 
definable something about him which often marks one whose 
life is closely associated with horses. A glance at the packet's 
steerage-list would have told you that he was one Eyre Coote 
Croker, late veterinary and smith of the village of Black- 
rock, County Cork. A most un-Irish name, that; for Sir 
Eyre Coote, his namesake, had been a famous British gen- 
eral, while the surname C r k# r had an equally English ring. 
Yet the man came by it rightly enough, since he was de- 
scended from Cromwellian soldiers planted in southern Ire- 
land two centuries before. His wife was likewise of migrant 
stock. She was a Wellstead a yeoman family of Scottish 
origin, though settled in the County for a couple of gen- 
erations. And the Lowland Scotch of her showed in her 
prim yet pleasant face. 

Eyre Coote Croker was the scion of a line which had come 
down in the world. Originally, the Crokers had been in- 
dependent landowners living in fair prosperity. But royster- 
ing forebears had scattered the ancestral acres and forced 
the youth with a generaPs name to earn his bread as a 
veterinary surgeon. Married young and with an abundant 
brood, easy-going, open-handed Eyre Coote Croker had done 


, nothing to redeem the family fortunes. Even his black- 
smithing had barely sufficed to balance the domestic ex- 
chequer. So, when times grew hard and the dark shadow 
of famine lowered over Ireland, he had given up the struggle 
and joined the rush to America. 

What thoughts crossed his mind that autumn day as he 
neared the New World, we do not know. Never fluent of 
speech, he has left scant record behind. But the scene must 
have heartened him, as it did all about him; for he spoke 
cheerily to wife and children, the youngest included a boy 
some three years old, unusually sturdy for his age, with a 
mop of black hair and odd, grayish-green eyes. Lifting the 
little fellow to his broad shoulder, the father pointed, saying: 
"Look, Dick New York. >Tis New York." And the 
boy, following the pointed finger, gazed, uncomprehend- 
ingly yet steadily, across the narrowing strifS of water at the 
sward of Battery Park and the autumn-tinted trees and the 
mass of red-brick buildings beyond. 

Thus did Richard Croker first view Manhattan that 
island-metropolis which, some forty years later, he would 
rule as an uncrowned king! 



NEW YORK in the forties, and for a generation thereafter, 
was an amazing place. For New York in those days was sky- 
rocketting from a town to a metropolis. And that was some- 
thing wholly beyond American experience. When our Re- 
public was founded, it had not even a good-sized city within 
its borders, and the census of 1790 showed only five places 
with more than 8 000 inhabitants. 1 

This lack of cities did not worry our forefathers; on the 
contrary, they deemed it a blessing and hoped it might 
never be otherwise. Jefferson undoubtedly voiced the feel- 
ing of his day when he compared great cities to great sores. 
The Fathers of the Republic had no municipal problems and 
did not bother their heads about such things. The non- 
existent city was ignored. The future was left to take care 
of itself. 

So matters stood for about a generation. Then, suddenly 
and without warning, embryo cities appeared in America. 
Faster and faster they grew, confronting an uncomprehend- 
ing and indifferent public with problems whose gravity was 
long ignored. And in New York these problems took on 
a peculiarly intense and aggravated form. The growing- 
pains which racked Manhattan in its transformation from 
town to city and from city to metropolis are seldom appreci- 
ated* Yet this chaotic transition epoch was precisely the 


period of Richard Croker's boyhood, youth, and prime. By 
it his character was moulded j from it he grasped his opportu- 
nities. Unless we comprehend this environmental back- 
ground, his career and personality alike lose most of their 
true significance. 

The outstanding fact is that, despite a veneer of sophis- 
tication, the New York of the eighteen-f orties was a gigantic 
frontier community, with the spirit of a mining camp and 
no civic standards worth mentioning. Furthermore, New 
York had become so, suddenly, within the preceding fifteen 
or twenty years. 

New York's metropolitan beginning dates from 1825 
the year of the opening of the Erie Canal. Before that, 
New York's commercial hinterland had been virtually the 
Hudson River valley, a fertile but restricted area hemmed 
in by mountainous uplands. Not until those geographical 
barriers were broken could Manhattan island capitalize its 
splendid harbor and become the commercial (and thereby 
the financial) pivot of America. 

It was modern methods of transportation that brought 
this about. And the Erie Canal was the first phase of an 
economic expansion which the turnpike, the railroad, and 
the ocean-going steamship were to extend overland to the 
Pacific and overseas to the uttermost ends of the earth. 

The swiftness of -New York's transformation after 1825 
is astounding. In a couple of decades, not merely the out- 
ward aspect but also the very spirit of the place was radically 
changed. Before 1825, despite a steady growth in prosperity 
and population, New York was essentially a "Knicker- 
bocker " town. Its ruling genius remained that of its staid 
Dutch burghers, with their love of order, moderation, and 
decorum. Compactly seated on Manhattan's southern tip, 


the city extended very little above Canal Street. The most 
fashionable residences were still around the Battery, and up 
Broadway and Greenwich to Courtland. New York's civic 
life was on so modest a scale that the cargo of one modern 
ocean liner would presumably have stocked all its ware- 
houses, the passengers on a single train into Grand Central 
or Pennsylvania Station would have overflowed all its 
hotels, while its annual municipal budget barely exceeded 

This last item is, however, less surprising when we dis- 
cover that New York then had almost none of those public 
services today deemed indispensable even by small towns. 
Until 1844, New York had no regular police force, but 
merely a few watchmen wearing curious leather caps, who 
came on duty at dusk and patrolled the streets hourly until 
dawn. There was likewise no fire department, and every 
blaze might become a conflagration and burn down a whole 
section of the city as happened several times. There was 
no health department, no sewage system, and practically no 
muncipal street-cleaning or garbage disposal most of the 
latter being done by scavengers in the shape of hogs ranging 
the streets at their own sweet will. Until 1815, there was 
but one public school, and that maintained, not by taxation, 
but by subscription. Water was furnished by a private cor- 
poration through bored wooden logs laid underground from 
a reservoir in Chambers Street. In 1825 the city was agog, 
not only over the Erie Canal but also over a great municipal 
improvement the introduction of gaslights in the main 
thoroughfares, to replace the wretched whale-oil lamps 
which smoked and sputtered and usually went out before 

Nothing better illustrates the spirit of this old New York 


than its Sabbath and its isolation. The Knickerbocker Sab- 
bath was an awesome thing. From early dawn all secular 
affairs were piously eschewed; no hot meals were served; 
no sound save the tolling of church bells broke the solemn 
stillness. Lest some chance vehicle, rattling over the cobble- 
stones, disturb worshippers, the churches stretched chains 
across the streets during services held thrice in the day. 
Woe betide the Sabbath-breaker! He was ostracized by the 

As for the limitations on trade and travel, they seem 
almost inconceivable to us of today. Local water transpor- 
tation by sloop or crude paddle-wheel steamer was slow 
enough, but it was far swifter than travel by land. Think 
of one lumbering stage-coach per day for Albany and another 
for Boston, while passengers for Philadelphia would cross 
to Jersey City in the evening, sleep there at a tavern, and 
start by stage early the next morning, arriving in the Quaker 
City (mayhap!) in about twenty hours. No wonder Wes- 
tern trade languished until the opening of the Erie Canal. 2 

Such was Knickerbocker " Gotham "; narrow and provin- 
cial, yet more livable and with a broader outlook than per- 
haps any other American town of that period. Now, com- 
pare the situation after two decades. By the late forties, 
New York was a big city. In 1820, its population had been 
just over 100,000; the census of 1850 gave it a round half- 
million. So swiftly had it marched up Manhattan Island 
that the smart residential section ran from Bleecker to I4th 
Street, including both Broadway and lower Fifth Avenue. 
Beyond lay a wide fringe of settlement fairly built-up 
to 23rd Street and trailing off into country villas and 
squatters' shanties almost to Yorkville and Harlem on the 
East and to Bloomingdale on the West Side; these villages, 


though within the corporate limits, being still deemed sepa- 
rate communities. The lower East Side was a noisome slum, 
centering about the district known as the Five Points. Down- 
town New York, as far as Fulton Street, had ceased to be 
residential and was frankly given over to business. New 
York was now a great port, and both water-fronts of lower 
Manhattan were belted with wharves and fringed with a 
forest of masts. In short, New York had become America's 
metropolis recognized as such, both at home and abroad. 

But this sudden rise to metropolitan greatness produced 
the inevitable result: it made New York a magnet for the 
ambitious, the unscrupulous, and the pleasure-seeking from 
far and wide. The myriads of poor immigrants who de- 
scended upon Manhattan like swarms of locusts are a com- 
monplace. But what is not so well-known is the other immi- 
gration of native stock, which even more powerfully affected 
the situation. From every part of the Union they came, by 
the thousands and tens of thousands canny a up-State y * 
New Yorkers, shrewd New England Yankees, hard-headed 
Westerners, and fiery Southerners; an adventurous host, 
determined to win fame and fortune, and seldom finicky as 
to how these should be gained. 

This two-fold invasion of Manhattan produced great 
economic results. The wholesale influx of brains, brawn, 
and abounding energy furnished just the combination needed 
to exploit New York's new opportunities. Wealth increased 
by leaps and bounds, and prosperity begot new prosperity* 

Yet there was another side to the story. All these fortune- 
hunters flocked to Manhattan much as their fellows were 
flocking to San Francisco at about the same time- For New 
York itself they cared little j of its traditions and culture they 
knew next to nothing and recked even less* It was a bonanza, 


a gold-rush, essentially like the other one across the con- 
tinent. So, like "'Frisco," New York became a "boom 
town," with all the usual unsightly trimmings such as fren- 
zied speculation, new-rich vulgarity, vice, crime, political 
corruption, and a general lowering of both civic and social 

In the early forties, Charles Dickens visited New York, 
and in his American Spates he set down his impressions of 
Manhattan's amazing mixture of luxury and squalor with 
a pungent sarcasm which raised a howl from Gotham's " high 

" Once more on Broadway! Here are the same ladies 
in bright colors, walking to and fro. We are going to cross 
here. Take care of the pigs. Two portly sows are trotting 
behind this carriage, and a select party of half-a-dozen 
gentleman hogs have just now turned the corner. . . They 
are the city scavengers, these pigs. Ugly brutes they are j 
having, for the most part, scanty brown backs, like the lids 
of old horse-hair trunks. At this hour, just as evening is 
closing in, you will see them roaming towards bed by scores, 
eating their way to the last." 3 

All contemporary accounts stress the prevalence of vio- 
lence and disorder. In the early forties, the lack of a police 
force was keenly felt. The old night watch was not worth 
its salt. Crime was rampant, and in certain sections of the 
city respectable persons walking along the streets were in- 
sulted, robbed, and beaten in broad daylight by gangs of 
ruffians who infested those quarters. At night the streets 
were absolutely unsafe. The upshot was that a police force 
was organized, but it was so inefficient that, for a time, im- 
provement was barely perceptible. 

A decade later, conditions were about the same. When 


Mayor Wood made an official survey in the mid-fifties he 
found the streets ill-paved, filthy, and jammed with unregu- 
lated traffic j crime, drunkenness, and prostitution rampant j 
and a graft-ridden municipality which did nothing to better 
the situation. 4 

This survey is well-known and is the one usually cited for 
the period. Its accuracy is confirmed by the remarks of an 
English observer. This man, an unusually intelligent and 
well-read artisan, emigrated to New York in 1855. He was 
a convinced republican and came hither in high hopes. 
Three years later he returned to England, utterly disillu- 
sioned, and wrote a, book warning his fellow-countrymen 
against " that huge mantrap, the U. S. A." 5 

His disillusionment began the moment he landed, when 
he and some companions were lured to an immigrant board- 
ing-house, " A fortnight in one of these horrible dens," he 
says, "was enough for us, and we were glad to cross the 
water to Brooklyn, where things have not got to such a pitch 
of dirt, discomfort and indecency." New York was filthy 
and crime-ridden, and " the state of the streets such that 
there are holes deep enough to break the legs of horses." 7 

He contemptuously describes the New York police as a of 
all ages and sizes, including little withered old men, five feet 
nothing high, whose first impulse on seeing a street row is to 
pocket their c star ' and bolt down the next alley* The bulk 
of these gentry spend their time when on duty in bar-rooms 
or at the doors of them, cigar in mouth and hands in pockets. 
Some wear uniforms, others do not." s 

By this time New York had a semblance of fire protection 
in the shape of volunteer fire-companies. But they seem to 
have been a very mixed blessing, for our British informant 
terms them mere gangs of rowdies and asserts that every 



fire was literally a riot. " As they drag their engine along 
the streets they shout and scream, and whoop and yell, more 
like Indians or demons than reasonable men going to per- 
form a duty which requires coolness and judgment. When 
they arrive at the fire, confusion worse confounded j engines 
running into one another $ a mob of men, women and chil- 
dren impeding operations, and their ever-present thievish 
hangers-on busy in removing goods." 9 

Our intelligent workingman's crowning disillusionment, 
however, was the state of New York politics, which conclu- 
sively demolished his republican principles and sent him 
back to England metaphorically shouting: Qod Seme the 
King! He roundly damns both parties j there is not a pin's 
difference between Whigs and Democrats regarding bribery, 
corruption, and plug-ugly tactics. His description of the 
Presidential election of 1856 reads like a carnival of violence 
and barefaced fraud. 10 

But, it may be asked, was not public opinion aroused by 
such conditions? Was there no party pledged to resolute 
reform? No, practically speaking, there was not. Plaints 
and protests, of course, there were aplenty 5 but no organized, 
constructive movement of any significance. 

Perhaps the only thing which could have kept New York's 
evolution within ordered bounds would have been a long- 
established upper class, seasoned to authority a true aris- 
tocracy, whose intellectual and cultural attainments would 
have commanded genuine respect. But the Revolution had 
made this impossible. Colonial New York had been a Tory 
stronghold, 11 and when Revolution triumphed, over 10,000 
loyalist refugees sailed away with the British fleet j among 
them the strongest and staunchest of the city's colonial 


The truncated remnant of the old upper class which re- 
mained never regained its former prestige ; and this, not 
merely because it was faced with an aggressive democracy, 
but also because it no longer deserved either prestige or 
authority. Knickerbocker society, from the Revolution to 
the Civil War, was a dull, pretentious affair, snobbish rather 
than aristocratic. Its few really fine old families were hope- 
lessly diluted by a lot of brummagem Knickerbockers, mostly 
the mediocre descendants of Dutch peasants whose farms, 
turned into house-lots, yielded fortunes due to luck instead 
of ability. 

Incapable of true leadership, Knickerbocker society fenced 
itself off from New York's turbulent reality behind a Chinese 
wall of etiquette. Politically, the Knickerbockers were as 
impotent as the Royalists of Paris, who, from their grim old 
mansions in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, sigh for a king 
and sneer at the Republic. But, like the Paris Royalists, the 
New York Knickerbockers never admitted their impotence 
and maintained an air of lofty superiority, consistently op- 
posing the popular side in politics, whatever it might be. 
This did them no good but the city considerable harm, since 
it injected into municipal politics an element of snobbery and 
class-hatred which hampered civic progress. 

Another hindrance was New York's peculiar geographical 
situation. Forced to expand in one direction only, the city 
flowed northward up the long, narrow island of Manhattan, 
like a gigantic snake forever casting its skin. Scarcely had 
a particular neighborhood established itself than it disin- 
tegrated, was torn down, and was rebuilt as something else. 
This was a serious handicap alike to social stability and the 
growth of civic feeling. 

Coming now to the small minority with real municipal 


ideals, we find their efforts hampered by lack of knowledge 
and their thin ranks divided for want of a common program 
of action. Incredible as it may seem to us of today, the 
would-be reformers of municipal ills in the forties and fifties 
simply did not know what to do. We have already seen 
that cities were then wholly new to American experience. 
The city just didn't fit into the scheme of things so nicely 
arranged by the Fathers of the Republic. Most men re- 
garded municipal problems as an annoyance, turned with a 
sigh of relief to the more familiar field of national politics, 
and bade civics go to the devil which they promptly did. 
Thus the reckless, roystering, devil-take-the-hindmost 
spirit of Boom-Town gripped Manhattan, and metropolitan 
New York proceeded cynically (yet rather splendidly) on its 
way; whither, few knew, or cared. Those were great days, 
if you had a shrewd head, a hard hand, and plenty of nerve. 
Little old New York was no place for weaklings. 




THE sun was near its setting, with a tang of frost in the 
autumn air, when the Henry C^V was warped into her 
berth and her human cargo put ashore. Down the gangplank 
swirled the immigrant stream, spreading out upon the wharf 
and mingling tumultuously with the crowd that waited on 
its coming. There was no inspection, no regulation 5 in the 
mid-forties. Castle Garden was still a concert-hall, while 
Ellis Island and quota laws were both far below time's 
horizon. It was the age of laissez faire; which, in plain 
English, means " do as you dam 7 please." 

The dockside throng that awaited the packet's warping 
was a motley lot. Some were honest laboring-folk, come 
to meet relatives from the Old Country and take them in 
friendly charge. Others, however, were of a different kid- 
ney* Bold, brassy fellows they werej Irish, too, for the 
most part, but of a garish prosperity and self-assurance which 
set them quite above their hard-working fellow-country- 
men. These were immigrant " runners " a sinister 
craft that flourished exceedingly in those free-and-easy 
days. 1 

And well the runners knew their job. As the immigrants 
stood huddled on the dock, bewildered by the tumult and for 
the most part with no kin to greet them, the runners swooped 
down on them like hawks upon their prey. Needless to add, 



the Croker family was soon spotted by one of the slickest 
of the tribe. 

Puffing false friendship with every draw on his big 
cigar, a burly, red-faced man, sporting a stove-pipe hat and 
a flowered waistcoat, strode up to Eyre Coote and bade him 
jovial welcome. The dazed, slow-spoken veterinary-smith 
was quite overwhelmed by the rapid-fire of the runner's 

" What County? . . Ye don't tell me. . . And from 
Blackrock, too. . . Och, the luck of it} me happenin' here 
today! . . Sure, a County-man's always a comrade, sez 
L . . Now, we'll be lavin' this shalloo for a dacint, quiet 
place I know of; jist made fer yez an' the childher, 
ma'am. . . And the cost iv it? Niver a penny ye'll pay me, 
ma'am. Amment I yer frind? " 

So forth from the bedlam on the wharf fared the Crokers 
and their new-found " friend " who helped Eyre Coote with 
the baggage and favored each child with a cheery word, not 
forgetting little Dick, whom he called " a broth of a bhoy." 
Under his efficient convoy they safely ran the gantlet of 
rival runners, furtive Jewish money-changers, and miscel- 
laneous ruffians hovering in the background. The big, red- 
faced fellow had proved his mettle too often for others to cut - 
in on his game. 

A short walk of a few blocks brought them to their des- 
tination a dilapidated brick building set in a block devoted 
to similar purposes. The whole street, indeed, was a nest 
of immigrant boarding-houses, of which there were then 
nearly two thousand in New York City, belting both water- 
fronts just back from the wharves. 2 

The aspect of the " quiet, dacint place " was far from in- 
viting. The ground floor was a combination lounging-room 


and " family grocery " stocked with dubious supplies such 
as maggoty hams and shoulders, strings of dried onions, salt 
fish, pipes and tobacco, and above all, barrels of whiskey. 
These goods the proprietor practically forced his guests to 
buy at exorbitant prices. 

Uneasy at the prospect, Eyre Coote and his wife were half- 
minded to seek other lodgings. But where? Their jovial 
guide, having delivered his quarry, had promptly disap- 
peared. To venture forth again into the dark streets infested 
with prowling thugs was impossible. Better endure their 
present lot, lest worse befall. So Eyre Coote and his brood 
soon found themselves crammed into a dingy chamber, there 
to pass an uneasy night from the abundant vermin in the 
frowsy pallets, the scampering of rats in the mildewed walls, 
and the quarrelling of drunken neighbors. 

Morning, however, found the family unharmed. The 
place was just a typical immigrant boarding-house, run by a 
man, grasping, indeed, yet no bad representative of his kind. 
No robbery or violence was practised on the premises, as 
happened in many dens where luckless new-comers were 
stripped of all their goods and flung, penniless, into the 

Still, Eyre Coote and his wife agreed that this was no fit 
abode, even for a brief stay. The father must see his family 
safely bestowed while he sought a job and a home. Fortune 
favored, and a few days later the Crokers were installed in 
lodgings better answering the " quiet, dacint place " the 
immigrant runner had so glibly promised. 

But the job was still lacking. What Eyre Coote wanted 
was a post as veterinary to some stable or concern with many 
horses. He had had enough of blacksmithing in the Old 
Country and was resolved to ply his surgeon's craft in the 


new land. That, however, was easier said than done. The 
city was well supplied with horse-doctors, which made it 
hard for an unknown stranger from overseas. Vainly did 
Eyre Coote seek a professional opening, both in New York 
and elsewhere. Meanwhile funds were getting low. What 
was to be done? 

At this point the harassed man decided to try his luck in 
the queer no-man's-land which then extended from about 
23rd Street northward to the settlements of Bloomingdale 
and Harlem. This outer fringe of the metropolis long 
remained one of the strangest anomalies in New York's 

Manhattan Island is geologically a rock-mass a lower 
counterpart of the Palisades. Despite the Harlem flats and 
some good farmland here and there, the rocky core out- 
cropped sharply in steep hills and bold ledges, especially 
through the middle section of the island (the site of Central 
Park), trending thence northwesterly to the Hudson River 
right to the island's rugged northern tip, which is not wholly 
built-up even today. 

Manhattan is now so tamed and pruned by the hand of 
man that it is scarcely possible for our generation to recon- 
struct in fancy the topographic past. Only some bits of 
Central Park and the eastern face of Morningside Heights 
give us a clue to the semi-wilderness of cliff and crag, bald 
ledge and dank hollow, which stubbornly confronted the 
city's onward growth. Too barren for agriculture and too 
broken for easy suburban development, Manhattan's " bad- 
lands " were despised and neglected until the buccaneering 
vision of Boss Tweed, abetted by some great land speculators, 
solved the problem by giving the city Central Park and 
Riverside Drive. 


However, those municipal glories were undreamed-of 
when poor Eyre Coote Croker, despairing of finding a pro- 
fessional niche in the city proper, resolved to move to the 
highly improper districts beyond the city's settled fringe. 
So he decided to try his luck in a Shanty-Town." 

From time immemorial, the bad-lands of Manhattan had 
harbored a strange, half-nomad population, known as 
" squatters," from the fact that they dwelt precariously on 
lands to which they had no title but on which they were suf- 
fered by indifferent owners to remain. Even in Colonial days 
these worthless tracts had been pre-empted by a scattering 
of gin-soaked Indians, vagrant whites, and runaway negroes. 
As time passed, this mongrel population was steadily aug- 
mented by waifs and strays from the growing city to the 
southward, and when the foreign tide set in, large numbers 
of immigrants, driven by poverty and distaste for crowded 
slums, sought refuge in this sordid sanctuary. Most nu- 
merous were the Irish, who soon so outnumbered the other 
squatters that the term Shanty Irish covered the whole mot- 
ley tribe. 

This curious population persisted for many years, until 
finally evicted by the northward thrust of the city. A New 
York artist gives us these colorful word-sketches of squatter 

" If you stand in the hollow at the corner of 86th Street 
and Eighth Avenue, you will see a long reach of garden with 
a weathered old cottage in the middle, and if you do not 
raise your eyes, it will seem that you are in Ireland, When 
the shadows fall, the land has a sear and brown look, and 
the hollows remind one of Ireland more than ever. But 
later in the afternoon the crimson splendor in the west is 
reflected upon the old shanties perched above the level, and 



their frail and weatherbeaten shingles glow with the trans- 
mitted warmth. . . 

" The afternoon is waning, and the squatters are lighting 
their lamps in the shanties. A door is open, and we peep in. 
The furniture is scant, and much the worse for wear. A goat 
is curled up before the rusty little stove, and a mummy-like 
old woman is talking Gaelic between the puffs of her pipe to 
a barefooted girl who is kneading bread." 3 

Here it was that Eyre Coote Croker and his family took 
up their abode in a dilapidated dwelling in what is now the 
western portion of Central Park, on or near the old Bloom- 
ingdale Road. In these squalid surroundings the Crokers 
lived for about three years. Their little house seems to have 
been somewhat better than the average squatter's shanty, 
and we may be sure that the patient, thrifty mother did her 
best to maintain in her home circle the decent cleanliness to 
which she had been reared. The father picked up a living 
by an itinerant veterinary practice among the horses, cows, 
and pigs of truck-farmers and market-gardeners, eked out 
by odd jobs of various sorts. It was a poor life, yet better 
than stewing in the foul tenements of the Five Points or 
Cherry Hill. 

For little Dick and the other Croker children such a life 
had its compensations. There were wide open spaces to 
range and play in, and plenty of fresh air albeit somewhat 
scented by nearby piggeries and dumps. Also, food was 
usually ample: goat's milk, fresh vegetables, eggs, and pork} 
since, in lieu of cash, many of Eyre Coote's customers pre- 
sumably paid in kind. It was a healthful, open-air existence 
if you dodged typhoid fever and malaria. 

Anyway, it did Dick no harm. He throve on it and grew 
sturdier every day. We can picture the life he led romp- 


ing with his brothers and sisters, tussling with rough little 
squatter brats, scaling gray rock ledges, and gleefully dodg- 
ing the charges of irate billy goats. Perhaps few memories 
of those early days remained in his conscious mind. Yet 
those years in Shanty-Town undoubtedly played an im- 
portant part in shaping his personality. For early childhood 
is nature's moulding-time. 

Thus Richard spent his boyhood up to his seventh year, 
when a great event happened his father got a steady job. 
By some lucky chance, Eyre Coote landed a post with an 
East Side stable on the edge of town, i. e., around 34th 
Street. It was nothing to boast of, that job. But it paid a 
fair wage, and it brought the Crokers out of the wilds of 

A few years later, Eyre Coote got a better job as assistant 
veterinary to the stables of a horse-car line, also on the East 
Side. This meant a further improvement in the family 
fortunes. At last the humble horse-doctor had round his 
professional niche. He liked his job, held it, and abode 

Richard's boyhood was thus passed a bit above the pov- 
erty-line and in the same neighborhood, his family liv- 
ing first on 26th Street and later on 28th Street, near 
Third Avenue. With a steady-going father and a thrifty 
mother, the Croker children were brought up in a self- 
respecting home. Though their abode was on the edge 
of the notorious " Gas House District," it was not in the 

Richard was thus spared the squalor of the swarming ten- 
ements. Yet he dwelt in their very shadow, and they colored 
his youth as they did that of most lads of his class and time. 
Indeed, the close-herding of the masses into more or less 


squalid tenements was for generations the root-ill of New 
York life. 

And the basic cause of this stubborn evil was neither 
greedy landlordism nor corrupt politics, but geography. 
New York began as a small town on the tip of a long, narrow 
island flanked by broad rivers. When New York suddenly 
expanded, the inevitable result was acute congestion. Rapid 
transit was as yet unknown. A single stage-line up Broad- 
way, and a few primitive ferry-boats to Brooklyn and Jersey 
summed up metropolitan transportation. 

This meant that the urban masses were literally heaped 
up around their jobs. How could a workingman afford five- 
cent fares to the embryo suburbs (even if he could afford the 
time) when a dollar a day was considered a good average 
wage? At the very least, it meant foregoing cherished 
pleasures such as a mammoth schooner of beer for a nickel or 
a big drink of fairish whiskey for a dime! 

With population far outstripping new construction, the 
laboring masses were jammed into ever closer quarters. 
First, single dwellings and ex-Knickerbocker mansions were 
converted into makeshift tenements by being cut up into 
small rooms, with jerry-built annexes covering the former 
garden-plots in rear. Then came the real tenements big 
rookeries subdivided into tiny suites, which often rose several 
stories high and occasionally occupied a whole city block. 
And still the congestion grew. The lower East Side was 
soon so densely packed that its population touched 290,000 
per square mile worse than the slums of China. 4 

As late as 1890, Jacob Riis, the well-known social worker, 
stated: "The tenements today are New York, harboring 
three-fourths of its population." 5 A decade or so later, the 
situation changed for the better, chiefly owing to -the mar- 


vellous development of suburban rapid transit. But that 
was well into the present century. During the entire period 
with which we are here dealing (the period of Richard 
Croker's active life) the basis of metropolitan existence was 
the congested tenement. As Riis well says, the tenement was 
New York. Sociologically, and politically 3 it was the tene- 
ment which set the civic tone, rather than the wealthy 
" brownstone-front " districts along Fifth Avenue. 

From the rough, hard school of poverty and adversity 
sprang the line of political chieftains who ruled the New 
York of those days. For Boss Tweed was born and bred in 
the old Fourth Ward, " Honest John " Kelly was cradled 
in the slums, while Richard Croker spent his early child- 
hood amid squatters 7 shanties and his youth in the tenement 

It was a tenement atmosphere little Dick Croker breathed 
whenever he set foot beyond the narrow confines of his home. 
And he was afoot most of the time 5 for Dick was no home- 
body, but an upstanding, aggressive spirit, thirsting for action 
and adventure. Though small for his age, Dick was so 
sturdily built and such a natural-born fighter that he was 
well able to take care of himself. Soon, the toughest boys 
in the neighborhood learned to walk wide of one whose 
fistic prowess was known for blocks around. 

Understand, that was no small reputation j for New York 
then swarmed with hordes of street-arabs, many of whom 
were homeless waifs living much like the a wild children " 
who roamed about Russian cities after the Great Wan In- 
credible though it may sound, there were no public agencies 
for their up-bringing. Prowling like alley-cats, they lived 
as best they might; foredoomed to grow up thieves and 
thugs, should they survive. 


Those were the tough customers Dick and the other neigh- 
borhood boys were apt to run up against every time they 
went out to play. For, in those days, there were no public 
playgrounds, no boy-scouts, no organized recreation of any 
kind. The street, the back-alley, and the wickedly dan- 
gerous waterfront were the only juvenile breathing-spaces j 
and whichever a boy chose, he had to dodge the cops and 
fight his way among his own kind. It was no place for Little 
Lord Fauntleroys; but those boys who could stand the gaff 
grew up to be " men of their hands." And young Croker 
was one of the best. 

Sandwiched in between play and fisticuffs, Dick got a 
little schooling. By this time, New York did have public 
schools, of a sort. Dick attended a primary school on the 
site of the famous Madison Square Garden. It was a one- 
room schoolhouse, where, instead of a blackboard, the teacher 
traced letters with a pointed stick in a box of white sand. 

After a year or two of this primary " education," Dick 
went to a grammar school on East 27th Street. Here the 
schoolmaster was a sour-tempered New England Yankee 
named Olney, who belabored his pupils with a hickory ruler 
on the slightest provocation. 6 

So the years passed, and Richard evolved from child to 
boy, and from boy to adolescent youth. A rough, care-free 
life it was, with games, scraps, brushes with the cops, and 
vagabond roamings with a few chosen companions. Those 
explorations into strange territory usually led to the East 
River, with its fascinating maze of wharves, and shipping, 
and water into which to plunge whenever the spirit willed. 
On such occasions Richard might be away from home for 
days at a time, foraging for food like the veriest street-arab, 
or earning a few pennies by some slight service like fetching 


a pail of beer from a waterfront saloon to sweating steve- 
dores or thirsty boatmen. 

And every year, Richard grew brawnier. His chest deep- 
ened, his limbs muscled, his grey-green eyes grew bolder, his 
battle-scarred fists held a punch amazingly beyond his age. 
While yet a boy, he had almost a man's strength. Rough 
lads, years his senior, acknowledged his supremacy; even 
obeyed him gladly. Before he was well into his teens, Dick 
Croker was a juvenile gang-leader. 



IN ROUGH times men must hang together or hang sepa- 
rately. No man then dares stand alone. He must belong 
to some crowd, or get the worst of it. The rougher the times, 
the closer men stick. The same is true of boys. And all such 
spontaneous groupings are, in the last analysis, " gangs " of 
various kinds. 

Now the New York of Richard Croker's youth was, so- 
cially, in the Dark Ages. So every boy of his class (barring 
a few hopeless cripples or mollycoddles) joined a gang and 
became a loyal gangster. There was nothing else a boy 
could do, even if he had wanted to. 1 

In those days almost every block had its juvenile gang, 
and if you didn't belong, you were fair game for any boy to 
pick on the instant you set foot outside your home. Once a 
member in good standing, you had the freedom of your 
block y but the very next block might be forbidden ground 
the realm of a rival gang, on which you trespassed at your 
peril. So a boy seldom roamed about alone, but usually 
joined forces with one or more tried companions. It was 
all very complicated, you see: a little world of loyalties and 
feuds, forays and defensive battles, truces and alliances sol- 
emnly pledged by gang leaders and rigidly kept by their 

Though forever warring among themselves, the gangs 
had one common bond hatred of the police. The cop was 



always the enemy, and a boy fleeing from a bluecoat was sure 
of sanctuary even among his bitterest foes. 

This perpetual feud between police and tenement youth 
was natural and inevitable. Allowed no legal outlet for 
their play-impulses, boys were bound to get their fun un- 
lawfully* Milk cans were stolen from doorsteps, and 
fruit or vegetables were snitched from grocers or pushcart 
venders, to grace gang-feasts. Staid old gentlemen had 
their top-hats knocked off by snowballs in winter-time. 
Pranks innumerable were played on householders who in- 
curred juvenile displeasure. All this was harmless enough 
at the start, but it fostered a deep-seated contempt for law 
and order, 

New York was thus a sort of Gangland, in which an in- 
finite variety of gangs, of all ages, sizes, and conditions strove 
tumultuously against the police and one another. Those 
old-time associations should be carefully distinguished from 
the so-called " gangs " of today. Modern gangsters are pro- 
fessional criminals, organized for specific purposes in rela- 
tively small groups which the underworld terms " mobs." 
The old-time gangs were of quite a different calibre. They 
were more like barbarian clans, bound together by a strong 
sentiment of solidarity, enthusiastically loyal to their chiefs, 
and often so large that a famous gang might put a thousand 
men in battle-array. 

Though some gangs were frankly criminal, others were 
notj and the basic motive seems to have been, not sordid 
crime but rather a brawling independence. A joyous fight- 
ing spirit was literally in the air. The Volunteer Fire Com- 
panies were practically gangs, and the cc silk stocking " Com- 
panies rampaged as lustily as did those from the Boweryj 
while boys in middle-class districts, equipped like gladiators 


with wooden swords and wash-boiler-top shields, engaged 
in fierce affrays. 2 

With boys so bellicose, the turbulence o their elders may 
be imagined. Marshalled under such piquant emblems as 
The T)ead Rabbitts, The Bowery Boys, The Tlng-Uglies, 
and The True-l^lue ^Americans, the exploits of these great 
fighting clans still ring down the years. Some gang feuds 
kept whole wards of the city in riotous tumult for days at a 
time. 8 

And what, you may ask, were the police doing while all 
this was going on? Well, the police were nibbling on the 
outskirts of the battle, arresting stragglers but not daring to 
plunge into the thick of the fray. What happened when 
they did is pithily narrated by an old-time New Yorker who 
tells how a squad of 100 policemen marched valiantly down 
Leonard Street from Broadway to quell a mob fight, " and 
in a few minutes came flying out again, hatless, coatless, and 
bloody. It was only the Bowery Boys c doing up ' the Five 
Points Boys, and when the police appeared, both gangs 
threw them out of the Five Points and then turned again to 
their own difficulties." 4 

Bearing all this in mind, the amount of police protection 
accorded the average citizen can be readily guessed. Mind- 
ing your own business did not help. In fact, a quiet de- 
meanor often invited trouble. In other words, the only way 
for a man with neither money nor position to get on in the 
world was to pack a punch in both fists with a length of 
leadpipe or a pistol in his pocket for special emergencies. 

The ideal of every upstanding New York youngster out- 
side the well-to-do classes was the Bowery Boy the hard- 
bitten, picturesque fellow, ready for a fight at the drop of a 
hat, and able to take care of himself under almost any cir- 


cumstances. And the Bowery Boy, remember, was neither 
a crook nor a loafer; he was usually a husky butcher or 
mechanic, who earned an honest living, fought fair, and 
scorned to molest women or aged men. 

The Bowery, indeed, set the tone for the rough, breezy 
democracy of old New York, Says a writer of the period: 
" There is no respect for persons in the surging Bowery. It 
treads on your heels; turns molasses, milk or liquor over 
your clothes; tears your garments or whirls you into the 
gutter; yet never explains in the least or asks your pardon. 
If you want manners, you should not be there. You must 
submit to the customs of the quarter, or fight, if you are 
aggrieved." 5 

Such was the Bowery in the heyday of its glory, immortal- 
ized by the famous popular ditty relating, in many verses, 
the sad experiences of a tenderfoot, and ending always with 
the poignant refrain: 

O h > the 2? owery I The "Bowery ! 

They say such things > and they do such things 

On the ^B owery y the 2? "owery ; 

Pll never go there any morel 

That, then, was the situation. But it was a situation which 
exactly suited young Dick Croker, For, before he was out 
of his teens, Richard was a formidable person. Abnormally 
strong for his age, he already gave promise of what he would 
be in his prime a tremendously sturdy body, massive 
shoulders, deep chest, and powerful arms shaggy with black 
hairj the whole topped by a grim- jawed face and those 
penetrating, gray-green eyes which, on occasion, could flash 
like lambent flame. Thewed like a bull, and with almost a 



gorilla's strength, here was a young man fit to batter his way 
far in a rough world if his wits matched his frame. 

Assuredly, Richard made the most of the physical gifts 
which nature had bestowed upon him. Loving exercise as 
much as he hated books, the lad showed early aptitude in 
various forms of sport in swimming; in wrestling; and, 
above all, in the use of his hands. Attending a boxing gym- 
nasium kept by a veteran pugilist, Richard soon became the 
star pupil, and one fine day knocked out his master. 

Indeed, had Fate not decreed otherwise, Dick Croker 
might have won fame in the prize-ring, for he gained quite 
a reputation in sporting circles and had a string of victories 
to his credit against good local talent. These fights were 
informal affairs, like those held in a cellar near his home, 
and a certain whirlwind bout with one " Pat " Kelly, staged 
in a saloon. 

His most famous battle, however, was wholly impromptu. 
Richard was attending a picnic at Jones' Wood when the 
party was invaded by a notorious bully named " Dickie " 
Lynch, known as a " mean " slugger and a generally bad 
actor. Though outclassed in both height and weight, Richard 
went for the intruder like a prize bulldog, and administered 
a terrific beating. This notable triumph so enhanced young 
Croker's reputation that thenceforth few men cared to stand 
up to him in hot blood. However, Croker was deemed 
a fair fighter, in days when a great deal "went" and 
the benign influence of Queensberry Rules was as yet un- 
known. 6 

Young Croker fought for fun, not profit. He had a job 
that of machinist in the shops of the New York Central 
Railroad; and he was a good machinist, too. For many 
years, half -mythical legends lingered in the car-shops about 


that strapping youngster and his phenomenal prowess. It 
was said that as a blacksmith he could wield a sledge in either 
hand. We are told how he built a locomotive, ran it out of 
the shops, and turned it over to the company after testing its 
speed on a trial trip. There is a fine touch of romance in the 
thought that, some twenty years later, the highest officials 
of that great railroad would be politely conferring with the 
man who, in his youth, had worked for them at a slender 
weekly wage. 

Work and boxing, however, by no means summed up 
Richard's activities. Like many other brisk young men in 
various walks of life, he belonged to a Volunteer Fire Com- 
pany, and he won the plaudits of his fellows by his ability as 
stoker of Engine 28, much as Bill Tweed did when foreman 
of " Big Six." Last, but emphatically not least, Croker was 
a gangster of some note. And it was these two avocations 
which led him into his political career. 

Had Richard lived on the lower East Side, he would 
probably have become either a Dead Rabbitt or a Bowery 
Boy. Since he dwelt further north, he joined the livest or- 
ganization in his part of town an enterprising outfit known 
as the Fourth Avenue Tunnel Gang. And once in, he 
rapidly promoted himself by a rare combination of punch, 
loyalty, shrewdness, and dogged perseverance. 

The Fourth Avenue Tunnel Gang seems to have been 
neither better nor worse than the average of its kind. Its 
members were rough young fellows, ready for a fight or a 
frolic, and more or less mixed up with the seamy side of 
ward politics. In short, they typified their times. 

And the times were boisterous. Not only did bad social 
conditions foster lawlessness} racial and religious differences 
inflamed popular passions and envenomed local politics. 


Young Croker breathed an atmosphere which grew more and 
more stormy until, in his twentieth year, he lived through a 
great explosion which nearly left the metropolis a heap of 
smouldering ruins. This catastrophe was the Draft Riots 
of 1863. 

The Draft Riots were no chance happening. They were 
the logical climax of a situation which had long portended 
trouble and which produced far-reaching political conse- 

New York politics had always been bitter and unscrupu- 
lous. But immigration had complicated the situation, espe- 
cially the great Irish influx of the forties. 

When the Irish influx began, New York City was about 
evenly divided between Democrats and Whigs. At first, 
both parties looked askance at the Irish. Tammany Hall 
(already become the regular local Democratic organization) 
was for a while strongly " Native American " in its attitude. 
However, Tammany swung around, championed the immi- 
grant, and corralled most of the Irish vote. The Whigs 
tried to straddle the issue. The result was that they pleased 
nobody, got very few Irish votes, and lost a large part of 
their own followers to a new organization, the Native 
American or "Know-Nothing" Party, which came out 
flat-footed against immigration in general and the Irish in 

The issue was now squarely joined, and public opinion 
grew more and more inflamed. Many Democrats joined the 
new party, especially native workingmen, disgruntled by the 
competition of immigrant labor. In return, however, the 
immigrants tended to become Democrats. 

The effects of popular passion upon practical politics were 
only too evident. Fraud, violence, and corruption became 


intensified. All three parties maintained standing armies 
of repeaters and thugs to cast fraudulent ballots and intimi- 
date peaceful citizens at the polls. 

These bravoes also fought one another on every possible 
occasion. The Native American champion, Bill Poole, a 
heavyweight boxer familiarly known as a Bill the Butcher," 
staged a series of Homeric combats with the Democratic 
champion, a gigantic Irishman named Morrissey. At length 
Bill was shot up in a saloon by some of Morrissey's friends, 
and expired, gasping: " Good-bye, boys; I die a true Ameri- 
can! " Bill Poolers last words became the battle-cry of his 
comrades in many a bloody melee. 

The Civil War further complicated the situation. Local 
politics were in chaos j for the Native American Party had 
evaporated, the Whig Party had gone to pieces, the Demo- 
crats were badly shaken, and a new party, the Republican, 
had appeared on the scene. From the very beginning of the 
war, the turbulent metropolis was an uncertain quantity. 
And as the war dragged dismally on, New York's attitude 
became more doubtful. Democrats murmured that the war 
was a failure, Southern sympathizers whispered busily, while 
the great foreign population muttered in its tenements, curs- 
ing war-prices and the growing toll of blood. 

So matters stood when, in the spring of 1863, Congress 
decreed the Draft. In New York City the passage of the 
Draft Law was greeted with a chorus of wrath. Many men 
swore that they would never submit to it and talked wildly 
of a new rebellion. 

Then, just before the Draft was held, the South dealt its 
supreme blow* At the head of the finest army the Con- 
federacy ever put into the field, General Lee struck due 
north and invaded Pennsylvania, The fate of the Union 




hung in the balance. In the opening days of July, the scales 
tipped at Gettysburg. 

But the thunder of the guns at Gettysburg had barely 
ceased when, in New York, the Draft wheels began spinning. 
And they had spun but a day when the city was aflame with 
insurrection. Out of the slums and tenements huge mobs 
sprang as if by magic. With even the home-guards in the 
field against Lee, New York was virtually defenseless. The 
police were overwhelmed, and for two days and nights most 
of the city passed under mob control. It was an orgy of 
plunder, arson, and lust. 

Then a stream of veteran regiments fresh from the front 
turned the tide. The raving mobs were blasted by howitzer 
salvoes and mowed down by rolling volleys of musketry fire. 
Within a week, the insurrection was crushed. But sup- 
pose Lee had won at Gettysburg! 

The Draft Riots had taught the Federal Government at 
Washington that here was a danger-spot. So, until the end 
of the war, New York City was carefully watched, was gar- 
risoned by Federal troops, and was more than once placed 
under what amounted to a veiled form of martial law. 

From the Federal standpoint, all this was necessary and 
proper. Yet, most New Yorkers had their own ideas on the 
subject. For whether or not the war-measures of the 
Republican administration were justifiable, New Yorkers 
generally chafed under them, Democrats were deeply em- 
bittered, and partisan hatreds were correspondingly sharp- 
ened. 7 The final result was a great accession of Democratic 
strength, many ex- Whigs becoming rockribbed Democrats. 
The close of the war saw New York City a Democratic 

In fact, for the next generation, the Manhattan Democracy 


was so strong that it could split two or three ways, and still 
carry the city against the Republicans on a straight party 
line-up. The local Republican organization was in many 
ways like the Republican " carpet-baggers " of the Southern 
States during the Reconstruction period. It depencied al- 
most wholly upon Albany and Washington, and had scant 
vitality of its own. 

Of Richard Croker's doings during the Draft Riots 
nothing definite is known. The war apparently meant little 
to him. Though he was eighteen years old when it began 
and twenty-two when it ended, he never tried to enlist. 
That much is obvious ; for if a recruiting sergeant had ever 
caught sight of his stalwart frame, Dick would never have 
gotten away! 

No. Richard had his mind on other matters. He was 
getting into politics. And, needless to add, he was a good 



TOUGH towns breed tough politics. Any political party: 
that intends to get somewhere under such circumstances must 
play the game. Otherwise, it will simply be counted out. 

From the very start of our national life, politics were 
stormy especially municipal politics. For, as already re- 
marked, the city was quite beyond the ken of the Fathers 
of our Republic, and was long regarded as something un- 
worthy of statesmanlike consideration. The story of mu- 
nicipal government in the United States, from its beginning 
right down to about 1890, is a sort of political Rake's Prog- 
ress, getting steadily worse and with few hopeful signs for 
the future. No wonder that Lord Bryce, writing in the late 
eighties, declared pessimistically that city government in 
America was " a conspicuous failure." 1 

Looking backward, the reasons for this lamentable civic 
decline are self-evident. " The task of governing the early 
American town was simple enough. . . Their populations 
were homogeneous, their wants were few 5 and they were 
still in that happy childhood when every voter knew nearly 
every other voter, and when everybody knew his neighbor's 
business as well as his own, and perhaps better." 2 In other 
words, these were real communities) in the organic sense, 
with traditions, standards, and a civic consciousness that em- 
braced all classes. 



Then those compact little towns swelled prodigiously into 
big cities and promptly lost their civic souls. For, as 
Bryce well says: " What is a modern American city? A 
huge space of ground covered with houses. * . More than 
half of the lower strata had lately come from their far-off 
Old World homes. , . They were not members of a Com- 
munity, but an aggregation of human atoms, swept hither 
and thither like grains of desert sand." 8 

What wonder, then, that these mushroom cities should, 
almost without exception, have wallowed in an orgy of po- 
litical corruption? What wonder that, with no effective 
safeguards, elections became ruthless partisan battles? 
What wonder that all parties were literally forced to vie 
with one another in fraud and violence? Finally, what 
wonder that New York, where conditions were most hectic, 
should have been the worst offender of them all? 

As far back as the thirties, New York City politics had 
become notorious for turbulence and venality. By that time, 
the Tammany Democracy had mobilized the slum gangs for 
ruthless political service. But the Whigs did their best to 
keep up with the game; and, in default of enough local 
talent, they imported gangs of thugs and rowdies from 
Philadelphia and other Whig strongholds. So both sides 
C 2#ipt^ they 

stuffed ballot-boxes, ^coloaized^" t^^sr^^fgr^d ballots, 
andjsngineered electipn.,.. riots . jsehich sometimes needed the 

The most picturesque personality of that early epoch was 
Captain Isaiah Rynders. This hard-faced, heavy-handed 
old ruffian had begun life as a gambler and dirk-fighter on 
the Mississippi. Drifting to New York, like so many other 
adventurous spirits, he plunged ze^fully into its rough-and- 


tumble politics, and was soon one of the ward-captains of the 
local Democracy. There was nothing that Rynders would 
not do; and his grim visage, scarred by bullets and bowie- 
knives, warned opponents of what they might expect at his 

If Rynders typified ward politics, the party leaders, 
though more urbane, were imbued with the same spirit of 
ruthless partisanship. The " spoils system " which so long 
dominated American politics was first clearly formulated in 
a speech by Senator Marcy of New York, in the year 1833. 
Defending the politics of his State against an attack by Henry 
Clay, Marcy declared roundly in open Senate: " It may be 
that the politicians of New York are not so fastidious as 
some gentlemen are. They boldly preach what they prac- 
tise. When they are contending for victory, they avow their 
intention of enjoying the fruits of it. If they fail, they will 
not murmur. If they win, they expect to reap all the ad- 
vantages. They see nothing wrong in the rule that to the 
victors belong the spoils." 

The Civil War intensified the unfortunate trend of the 
times. The war sharpened partisan hatreds and raised the 
doctrine of " party regularity " almost to a religious dogma. 
It also fostered an era of unbridled extravagance and cor- 
ruption. One political party was as bad as another. If in 
New York City the local Democracy was debauched by 
the brazen effrontery and gigantic peculations of Boss 
Tweed, the Republicans at Washington were disgraced by 
colossal scandals like the Credit Mobilier and the Whiskey 

The most sinister feature of the post-war epoch, however, 
was the close alliance between politics and " big business." 
The financial demoralization of the war-period the job- 


bery in army-contracts, the sudden growth of ill-gotten for- 
tunes, and the gambling spirit aroused by an unstable paper 
currency, had spawned a horde of unsavory millionaires. 
And this crew of new-rich profiteers, reckless and unscrupu- 
lous to the last degree, were past-masters in the art of prosti- 
tuting politics to their own ends. In national, State, and 
municipal politics, it was the same story, Jim Fiske and Jay 
Gould were but the prototypes of a sordid era in which fran- 
chise grabs, grafting contracts, and special privileges of all 
kinds were the order of the day. 

The debasing influence of the times is strikingly shown in 
the career of the arch-villain of the piece Boss Tweed. 
Contrary to the general impression, Tweed did not scheme 
from the first to get into politics. His modern biographer 4 
brings this out very well. He shows us young Bill Tweed 
as a youth of good habits, fairly launched in business, and 
happily married to a nice girl at an early age. When this 
self-respecting, popular young fellow is waited on by a 
delegation and asked to run for office, he declines, saying 
that he wants to stick strictly to business. 5 

Then the Presidential election of 1844 takes place. 
" Tweed, after casting his vote, loitered around the polls. 
He saw both sides offering money for votes, bidding against 
one another. He went home to his bride that night, mar- 
velling at the braxen manner in which it had been done. He 
had heard and read of these things. . . Then he recalled 
his father-in-law's opinion of politics. Was not politics a 
corrupt game? . . There was no magic in it. It was just 
plain theft. The Whigs stole in the Whig strongholds, and 
the Democrats in the Tammany strongholds. Ballot boxes 
were stuffed, incorrect tallies reported by crooked tally 
clerks, and the thugs of Rynders and his ilk went from one 




polling-place to another, impersonating honest citizens. 
Both sides did it." 6 

A few years later, Tweed decided to enter politics. But 
in this brief period, his youthful ideals had been quite shat- 
tered. " More than that, he had fixed ideas as to his future 
line of conduct. Politics were corrupt. He would have' to 
be corrupt to be successful. And he was determined to 
succeed. His political credo, as recited by him before the 
Aldermanic Committee that made a pretense at investigating 
the Tweed Ring frauds after his downfall, was thus trans- 
cribed by the official stenographer: 

" c The fact is, New York politics were always dishonest 
long before my time, A politician in coming forward 
takes things as they are. This population is too hopelessly 
split up into races and factions to govern it under universal 
suffrage, except by the bribery of patronage, or corruption." 7 

Such, even in the hour of defeat and disgrace, was the de- 
liberate judgment of the man whom young*t>ick Croker ac- 
knowledged as his political liege-lord from the time he en- 
tered politics until he was nearly thirty years of age 5 the 
man whose career Croker studied, just as Tweed did the 
career of the notorious Fernando Wood and others of his 
time. The bosses passed, but the game of politics went on, 
essentially unchanged. And how should beginners learn the 
rules, if not from the master-players? 

Yet this conscious modelling upon the doings of the great 
was an afterthought, which came to Dick Croker only when 
he was fairly launched upon his political career. The first 
steps were slight and unpremeditated 5 perhaps even Croker 
himself could not have told you just when the earliest was 
taken. The truth is that Dick just drifted into politics as 
naturally and inevitably as he had drifted into his boyhood 


gang. Under the circumstances, it was the normal thing 
for him to do. 

Consider his situation: A strapping youngster, marked out 
among his fellows both by fighting ability and capacity for 
leadership, he could not fail to be soon noted by lynx-eyed 
ward politicians whose business it was to weigh and appraise 
every man and boy within their compact domain. First the 
block-lieutenant, then the precinct captain, then the district 
leader, knew that here was a pup who showed the marks of 
a good dog. And of course those shrewd appraisers were 
Democrats. For Dick lived on the edge of the old Gas 
House District. And the Gas House District was a Tam- 
many stronghold. 

The leader of the district in those days was a redoubtable 
personage long known in Tammany annals as Jimmy 
O'Brien the Famous. For many years he ruled his district 
with a master-hand; rewarding the faithful, chastising the 
unruly, crushing the disloyal, and fostering latent talent 
with an almost tender solicitude. For a good district leader 
cherishes the rising generation. It is through such wise 
foresight that Tammany endures, 

A Tammany sage gives us the key to Richard Croker's 
humble entrance into politics. In his remarkable book, 8 so 
crammed with the lore of practical politics, George Wash- 
ington Plunkitt (of Croker's own generation, and raised, 
like him, among the squatters of Central Park) thus describes 
the typical first steps in a Tammany career: "You can't 
begin too early in politics if you want to succeed at the game. 
I began several years before I could vote, and so did every 
other successful leader in Tammany Hall. When I was 
twelve years old I made myself useful around the district 
headquarters and did work at the polls on election day. 


Later on, I hustled about gettin' out voters who had jags on 
or who were too lazy to come by themselves. There's a 
hundred ways that boys can help, and they get an experience 
that's the first real step in statesmanship. Show me a boy 
that hustles for the organization on election day, and I'll 
show you a comin' statesman." 9 

Thus Tammany (even then almost a century old) took 
young Dick Croker in hand. With rough yet genial effi- 
ciency, it taught him its commandments. Some of these were 
new to him. Others he had already glimpsed in the gang 5 
for the gang-code of old New York was a good apprentice- 
ship for a Tammany " worker." 

First and foremost, Tammany taught discipline. Tam- 
many is a volunteer army, and strict obedience to orders is 
the basis of its power. As in Napoleon's armies, the rawest 
recruit carries a marshal's baton in his knapsack; the " career 
is open to talent." Yet straight and narrow is the path to 
advancement. Promotion comes only through a merit sys- 
tem, rigid as the law of the Medes and Persians, which even 
the big Boss never breaks. And the first article of the Tam- 
many code is that he who would lead must first serve 5 he who 
would command must know how, promptly and implicitly, 

(Tammany taught loyalty. For Tammany, remember, is 
a fraternity governed paternally. Hence, the big Boss, 
though the absolute head of the clan, must be loyal to his"" 
clansmen, who are his brothers 5 and they, in turn, must be 
loyal to him. As an old veteran of the Wigwam put it: 
" There's nothing sticks so tight as Tammany." 10 

To call Tammany a brotherhood may seem strange when 
we recall the fierce strivings for place and preferment which 
go on eternally within the organization, and which have 


sometimes so rocked the Hall with factional strife that its 
foes have gleefully predicted its speedy dissolution. 

Yet this is a surface view. One of the secrets of Tam- 
many's success has been that it is run on the stern principle 
of the survival of the fittest. From the big Boss down to the 
youngest precinct captain, every man in authority must not 
only win his place but must hold it by efficient service against 
a crowd of eager aspirants. In other words, he must ever- 
lastingly " deliver the goods." Results, not excuses ; elec- 
tion majorities, not alibis, are what is wanted and re- 
quired. As soon as results are not forthcoming, the man 
responsible is deemed to have cc fallen down on the job " 
and some one grabs the job away from him in short order. 
That keeps the whole organization forever " on its toes " 
and gives it at all times the " fighting edge " needed for 

Tammany makes both a business and a fine art of politics. 
The rnen who rise in Tammany Hall work systematically 
and intelligently. They take their politics as seriously as 
other men take their business or profession. In short, Tam- 
many has evolved a marvellous political technique, based, 
not on theory, but upon the practical experience of succeed- 
ing generations, j 

Tammany's unique feature is its unrivalled knowledge of 
what may be termed the " human equation." Of politics, in 
the narrow sense of the word, Tammany has no monopoly. 
Otherjpiachinel have been as well built, as strictly disci- 
plined, as shrewdly aware of the tricks and dodges of " prac- 
tical politics." But in its profound grasp of everyday human 
nature, Tammany stands alone 3 and it is therefore not as a 
mere machine but as an essentially human institution that 
Tammany has no rival in the political field. 


Tammany taught Dick Croker, the rough young gangster, 
" To be kind to those in trouble ; to look after the sick in 
the tenements in his precinct 5 to see that the widows had 
food and fuel, that the men had jobs, and the orphan chil- 
dren clothes ' y to mourn with those that mourn and to rejoice 
with them that rejoice." " 

This never-failing charity, dispensed with fraternal kind- 
liness, has characterized Tammany from its early days. Two 
typical instances may suffice: " The winter following the 
panic of 1837 was marked by unemployment, poverty, and 
suffering in New York. A Whig administration in power 
did nothing for the unemployed. Tammany promptly or- 
ganized relief committees in the various wards, which distrib- 
uted food, fuel, and clothing. . . Boss Tweed ran true to 
form in this line. During the winter of 1870-71, when an- 
other historic panic had paralyzed the country, Tweed gave 
$1000 to each alderman to buy coal for the poor. He dis- 
tributed $50,000 in his own ward. Of course, it was later 
proved that he had stolen the money he gave away in charity 5 
but New York recalled other venal persons who did not feel 
moved to share ill-gotten gains with their poverty-stricken 
fellow-citizens." 12 

The strength of Tammany's hold on the masses was never 
more strikingly shown than by the popular attitude toward 
Boss Tweed. Although convicted of gigantic frauds, dis- 
graced, and unsparingly condemned by the bulk of public 
opinion, Tweed kept the affection of his humble friends. 
The tenement wards remembered his lavish bounty and 
jovial good fellowship, and stood by him to the end. Dur- 
ing his trial, a Tweed champion, speaking at a popular mass- 
meeting, brought down the house by shouting: "Tweed's 
heart has always been in the right place, and even if he is a 


thief, there's more blood in his little finger and more mar- 
row in his big toe than the men who are abusing him have 
in their whole bodies! " ls 

Another thing to be remembered is that Tammany charity 
makes no distinction of race, creed, or even political alle- 
giance. No man down on his luck who seeks aid at the district 
clubhouse is ever asked his politics. Tammany figures, on 
a liberal percentage basis, that, whatever party a man may 
belong to at the start, after he has been helped out once or 
twice he will be a good enough Democrat to lend Tammany 
his vote most of the time. 

Such was the lore which Tammany imparted to Richard 
Croker, as to all others who have risen in its service; not at 
once, but bit by bit, the lessons were learned, mostly practical 
experience. Yet, once learned, they were never forgotten. 

At the start we can picture young Dick Croker doing slight 
political Jobs and getting small personal favors from minor 
henchmen in return. Of course he was far beneath the public 
notice of the great Jimmie O'Brien, his district leader. Dick 
Croker was then merely one of a dozen promising lads worth 
watching for future eventualities. 

But as Dick battled his way toward headship in the Fourth 
Avenue, Tunnel Gang, the situation altered. Dick was^rov- 
ing himself. Then came the impromptu battle with Dickie 
Lynch, the notorious bruiser, in Jones' Wood. That smash- 
ing' victory over long odds not only clinched young 
Croker's fistic reputation; it also stirred the district leader 
to action. The promising pup was a great dog! There was 
much work for him to do. It was high time he was taken 

With Jimmie the Famous, to decide was to act. Where- 
fore, the district was promptly given to understand that 


Dick Croker had been taken under O'Brien's wing and was 
part of "the organization." Dick had made his formal 
debut on the political stage. 

O'Brien's discerning eye had already spotted his new 
henchman's special field of usefulness. Dick Croker .was to 
be a -boss " repeater." In those days of lax registration laws, 
election repeaTing was one of the mainstays of a practical 
politics," and Jimmie the Famous had developed it to a fine 
art. Nowhere was there a better organized corps of re- 
peaters than that of the Gas House District} not even Isaiah 
Rynders could do better downtown in the " Bloody Ould 
Sixth Ward." On election days Jimmy O'Brien's " regu- 
lars," after making the home district safe, voted all over the 

Indeed, on crucial occasions, they might be hired for^an 
" outside job " as far away as Philadelphia or Albany} and 
they never failed to do yeoman service. It surely was not 
one of those efficient workers who committed the gross social 
error, immortalized by Senator Plunkitt, of trying to vote 
the name of the Episcopal Bishop of Albany, William Cros- 
well Doane. Amazed at the fellow's effrontery, the election 
clerk remonstrated: "G'wan! You ain't Bishop Doane." 
To which the repeater answered heatedly: " The hell I ain't, 
you ! " 

Young Croker was certainly well qualified for his task. 
Besides great personal strength, he brought with him a con- 
siderable following brisk boys of the Fourth Avenue 
Tunnel Gang. Around this trusted nucleus it was easy to 
build up an effective organization. 

That Dick soon mastered the tricks of the trade is shown 
by certain fragmentary yet enlightening evidence. It was 
in 1864 that Richard Croker, having reached man's estate, 


cast his first vote. The very next year he did even better 5 
he voted no less than seventeen times for William H. 
Lyman, the Democratic candidate for Constable in Green- 
point. 14 And three years later, a New York newspaper, 
describing the various gangs of repeaters loaned for heavy 
duty in the Philadelphia elections, ended its tally with the 
words: " Last, but not least, 150 metropolitan bandits under 
the notorious Dick Croker, all well-armed and spoiling for 
a fight." 1C As usual with whatever he undertook, Dick was 
forging ahead and gaining a reputation. 

Repeating was not precisely a peaceful trade. The other 
side always objected in principle, and frequently in practice. 
Such objections had to be met in equally practical fashion. 
This led to numerous incidents like the one in the elections 
of 1868, when Croker's gang assaulted Christopher Pull- 
man, a Republican politician, on the corner of 32nd Street 
and Second Avenue. Pullman was badly beaten up by the 
Croker boys and received injuries from which he never re- 
covered. 16 A couple of years later, the U^&w Tork Times 
printed a news item concerning an election brawl between 
Croker and one James Moore, on the corner of 2ist Street 
and Third Avenue, in which Mr. Moore got very much the 
worst of it. 17 Shortly afterwards the same paper referred to 
Richard Croker as "a rowdy and election bully of well- 
established fame." 1S 

Nothing is more amusing than the way Croker's enemies 
in after years would hold up their hands in holy horror over 
these and similar incidents of his early political career j while, 
on the other hand, his friends would gloze them over or 
angrily deny them altogether. 

Yet, surely, both sets of gentlemen displayed a sad lack 
of historical perspective to say nothing of a sense of 


humor. Why seek either to magnify or to minimize the ob- 
vious fact that Richard Croker began as ^ward heelgr? 
Morally, he was neither better nor worse than tfiFaTerage 
of his kind. He was merely doing (extremely well) what 
they all did or tried to do. Furthermore, he was obeying 
orders, as part of a highly disciplined machine. The respon- 
sibility was not his, but his superiors'. His business it was 
to hear and obeyj nothing more. 

Croker entered politics with his brawny fists. His course 
was clear. For what had he seen, what had he learned, to 
teach him that politics was anything more than sordid, brutal 
strife? We have noted his up-bringing from his earliest 
years. His-siw^ei*^^ made him what 

he was a, super-roughneck. 

So Dick Croker the ward heeler was well pleased with 
himself. And (what was more to the point) his ward boss, 
Jimmie the Famous, was pleased as well. The new hench- 
man had loyally " delivered the goods." Therefore he must 
be suitably rewarded. That was the unwritten law of the 

The usual wjj^wer^J^^ presently 

f oundrti'iniseif on the City payroll. His first municipal job 
was largely a sinecure that of Attendant in one of the 
Municipal Courts, at a salary of $1200 per annum. His 
next job was more in his line; he vzasjfozde^jz^nter on one 
of the Cky^s* steamers. 

Then, in 1868, when he was but 25 years old, Croker re- 
ceived a real mark of his suzerain's regard. Jimmie O'Brien 
having been promoted from the Board of Aldermen to the 
office of Sheriff of New York (a very fat plum!), Dick 
Croker was duly seated in his stead. An Alderman at 
Richard was getting on. 



RICHARD CROKER'S path to power was a long and rocky 
road. Full twenty years was his apprenticeship; years 
fraught with strife and checkered by reverses, one of which 
proved well-nigh fatal. That he beat down all barriers and 
bested all foes bespeaks his iron will and dogged endurance. 

Young Croker first rose from the ranks in Tweed's hey- 
day. Yet he rose, not under the Big Boss's immediate eye, 
but as the faithful henchman of Jimmie O'Brien, his district 
leader. Tammany is a feudal hierarchy, with clearly grad- 
uated obediences. Each district leader is a sort of baron, 
almost supreme within his own domain. To him, the local 
vassals owe primal fealty. Hence, when Boss and baron fall 
out, the district leader may fairly count upon the support of 
his trusty followers, even against the Boss himself. These 
domestic conflicts were frequent in earlier times, when Tam- 
many was looser jointed than it is today. 

It was in one such feudal warring that Richard was pres- 
ently embroiled. Barely had Croker blossomed forth as 
Alderman, than Jimmie the Famous quarreled with Boss 
Tweed. The cause need not concern us nor did it concern 
Richard overmuch. As Jimmie O'Brien's lieutenant, he 
followed his district leader into battle as naturally as the 
retainer of a feudal lord against his distant sovereign. So 
the Braves of the Gas House District formed an insurgent 



faction, which the newspapers played up as an "anti- 
Tammany movement." That, of course, was absurd. The 
Gas House District was a Tammany stronghold, and politi- 
cal divisions there were purely personal. It was just a family 
row, which would presently blow over. 

Meanwhile, however, the row waxed exceeding hot. 
Jimmie O'Brien gained allies in other districts, and the Big 
Boss was stirred to wrathful action. Unable to shake the 
rebels in their home wards, Tweed invoked the aid of 
Albany. The Democrats then controlled the State, so 
Tweed had plain sailing. A pliant legislature voted a new 
charter for New York City, so designed that the rebel Alder- 
men were turned out of office, while Jimmie O'Brien lost his 
Sheriff's job. That was just a sample of the so-called " rip- 
per bills " by which America's metropolis was apt to be 
civically upset at any moment through partisan schemes 
hatched at Albany, 150 miles away. 

It is interesting to learn that Alderman Croker was among 
those present in the gallery of the Senate Chamber when the 
Big Boss cracked the whip and his legislative puppets jumped 
to obey. "He must have watched the fantastic scene 
thoughtfully, for he then learned a great deal concerning 
what to do and what not to do when it came his turn to rule 
New York." x 

Within a year, the war was over. The Big Chief and his 
rebellious Sachems smoked the pipe of peace, and the insur- 
gent Braves trooped back into the Wigwam. Naturally, 
Jimmy the Famous saw to it that his right-hand man was 
properly taken care of 5 so ex- Alderman Croker got a job in 
the C^m^^lk^^^ 6 at a &d sa l ar Y> wit* 1 plenty of spare 
time for his district duties. 

Croker needed that spare time, because a deputy district 


leader had countless duties. He had to be on the job 
twenty-four hours a day, if O'Brien's political fences were to 
be kept in good repair. Every complaint must be promptly 
heard, every appeal of needy constituents quickly satisfied. 

Besides his routine chores, Richard had special election 
duties, as when he sat in some corner saloon, distributing 
ballots, 2 listening to reports of precinct captains, marshalling 
gangs of repeaters, and himself leading them forth to the 
fray in emergencies. It was a strenuous life, but it was his 
chosen calling and he throve mightily thereon. 

By 1871, Croker was apparently well on his upward way. 
Then came the first rumblings of the political earthquake 
which hurled Tweed from power. So shattering was the 
upheaval that a year later, Tammany lay defeated and dis- 
credited. Never was the organization nearer complete dis- 
solution. The solid front of the New York Democracy was 
broken into factions, not to be re- welded for many years. 

It is a mistake to think (as often asserted) that Tammany 
recovered its grip on the city soon after the Tweed debacle. 
New York remained Democratic, because the Democratic 
majority was so large that it could split internally and still 
retain party control. But there were several distinct fac- 
tions, the largest being one known as the County Democracy, 
with Tammany ranking second, Irving Hall third, and some 
flea-bite " Democracies " combining around election-time to 
gouge an office or two out of the bigger organizations. 3 The 
local Republican Party was then too small and morally too 
contemptible to be in the running. 

New York politics thus degenerated into a welter of fac- 
tional strife, wherein the best led and most compactly dis- 
ciplined organization would ultimately win. Fortunately 
for Tammany, it already possessed the tradition of " regu- 



larity," and it now produced a leader who was to steer it 
successfully through the lean years that lay ahead. 

Tammany's new leader was a man named Kelly, who de- 
lighted in the prefix Honest John." 4 Kelly's right to the 
title may appear somewhat dubious to modern eyes, but he 
seems to have merited it by the standards of his day. Besides 
a moral reputation vastly above Tweed's, " Honest John " 
possessed other qualities essential to his strenuous chieftain- 
ship. Raised in the hard school of the slums, Kelly had 
battled his way to the front. When he came to power in 
1872, he was in the prime of robust manhood. Kelly was 
physically a larger edition of Richard Croker. Six feet tall, 
his two hundred pounds of bone and muscle gave promise of 
tremendous fighting power a promise not belied by his 
grim mouth and stubborn jaw* 

Kelly pinned his faith on iron discipline. A dictator by 
nature, he demanded blind obedience, and when he had once 
made up his mind he could be moved by neither arguments 
nor threats. Opposition was to him an unpardonable sin, 
never to be forgotten. 

Such was the man, in all his strength and limitations. 
For "Honest John" lacked Croker's flexibility and cooler 
vision. Also, Kelly was susceptible to flattery. The result 
was that he raised up a host of needless enemies, while har- 
boring many false friends j and these together were respon- 
sible for the political failures which embittered his later 
years and finally brought him, broken-hearted, to an un- 
timely grave. 

Meanwhile, Croker, as a member of Tammany, had 
shared its misfortunes in the crucial days which marked the 
downfall of the Tweed Ring. His old leader, Jimmie 
O'Brien, deserted the apparently sinking Tammany ship, 


and like many other political war-horses, switched allegiance 
to one of the new Democratic factions which now arose. 
What was Croker to do? Should he follow Jimmie the 
Famous into the new camp? Or should he stick to the ship 
and follow the rising star of Tammany's new chief, " Honest 
John "? 

Perhaps it was the prompting of discipline, perhaps in- 
stinctive liking for a personality so kindred to his ownj any- 
how, Croker remained loyal to Tammany and became 
Kelly's man. Kelly, on his side, approved of Croker from 
the first, and Richard's fealty was soon rewarded. Through 
Kelly's influence, his henchman was appointed City Mar- 
shall and the next year Croker was elected Coroner an 
important office with fees worth $ 1 5,000 a year. 

However, there was trouble ahead. By this time, Kelly 
and O'Brien were enemies, and the nature of both men made 
it inevitable that this enmity should become a bitter personal 
feud. In the elections of 1872, O'Brien ran for Mayor in a 
three-cornered fight, the other contestants being the Tam- 
many candidate and the nominee of still another Democratic 
faction. This man won; but the Tammany candidate came 
in a close second, whereas O'Brien finished a bad third. 

That further envenomed the Kelly-O'Brien feud. As the 
elections of 1874 drew nigh, the two rivals girded their loins 
for a decisive trial of strength. And in that grim struggle, 
Richard Croker was destined to encounter the gravest peril 
of his entire career. He was to come within the shadow of 
the gallows. 



ELECTION morn dawned gray and sullen 3 a November day 
of the year 1874. Everybody in the district knew that 
trouble was brewing. The local campaign had been a whirl- 
wind of billingsgate and brickbats verbal and otherwise. 
Jimmy O'Brien was running for Congress. The Tammany 
candidate was Abram S. Hewitt, a millionaire merchant with 
a penchant for politics, ready to " open a barrel " to further 
his hobby. Hewitt was thus an ideal candidate for the oc- 
casion. With plenteous funds, Boss Kelly might hope 
to beat Jimmie the Famous even in his home ward. 
On the other hand, O'Brien had his back to the wall. 
Defeated there, his power would be so shaken that he 
might thenceforth be politically down and out. All of 
which meant a fight to a finish, in which almost anything 

Jimmy's ex-lieutenant, Richard Croker, was in the front 
rank of the Tammany attack. And his strong arm was 
needed, for Jimmy was fighting hard and rough. Long be- 
fore noon, gangs of embattled O'Brienites were patrolling 
the district, stuffing ballot-boxes and beating up Tammany 
voters. Owney Geoghahan, a notorious bruiser, spread ter- 
ror with his pile-driving fists 3 and a gang of West Side 
repeaters, hired for the occasion, was aiding the O'Brienite 



The Tammany men were not taking all this lying down. 
Their patrols were also in the field ; and it was one of these, 
headed by Croker, which presently came upon a knot of the 
West Siders at the corner of 34th Street and Second Avenue. 

Striding up to the intruders, Croker asked their leader, a 
strapping fellow named Billy Borst, what he and his friends 
were doing over on the East Side. Before Borst could an- 
swer, who should come around the corner but Jimmy 
O'Brien himself. 

Instantly the air grew tense. With a venomous side- 
glance at Croker, O'Brien addressed his hired henchman, 
asking pointedly, " Billy, what is that damned loafer saying 
to you? " 

" I am no damned loafer," growled Croker, advancing a 

u You are a damned loafer, and a God damned loafer, and 
a repeater! " shouted O'Brien. Both sides instinctively 
bunched together behind their respective champions. 

"You're a damned thief, " rejoined Croker j to which 
O'Brien answered: "You damned cur, I picked you out of 
the gutter, and now you're supporting a rich man like Hewitt 
against me for Congress." 

Thud! Thud! The fight was on. O'Brien swung heavily 
to Croker's head, and Croker landed a stiff one to the jaw, 
which cut O'Brien's mouth. "Come on, boys! " yelled 
George Hickey, a Crokerite. " Let's give it to the sons of 
bitches! " 

Snarling and cursing, both sides leapt into the fray. For 
a few seconds there was a milling blur of flailing arms and 
fists. Then crack! crack! Two pistol shots, followed by 
a scream of mortal agony. 

Sullenly the fighters drew apart as the police came on the 


scene. Hitherto, the guardians of the peace had kept dis- 
creetly in the background 5 but gun-play at close quarters 
was too much of a good thing. 

They found John McKenna, an O'Brienite, prone on the 
sidewalk, shot in the head and obviously dying. Limp and 
white, the stricken man was carried to a nearby drug-store. 
The police sergeant, who knew McKenna personally, bent 
over him. " John," he said, " it's my place to know. Tell 
me how it happened." 

McKenna groaned, and gasped: " For God's sake give me 
a drink of water! " 

Again the sergeant asked: " John, who shot you? " 

And the dying man muttered thickly, "Dick 
Croker l 

Richard was in a very tight place. For, regardless of his 
guilt or innocence, there was high politics involved. Jimmy 
the Famous had managed to hold his home ward. Hence, 
he was still a power in the land. And every ounce of his 
pull would be thrown against his ex-henchman, whom he 
hated as a renegade. Indeed, if Croker were innocent, his 
conviction by " railroading " methods would redound doubly 
to O'Brien's prestige; it would inform all and sundry that 
double-crossing Jimmie the Famous emphatically did not 
pay! Buttressed by McKenna's dying words, the case 
against Croker was strong. And Dick the ex-gangster's 
reputation was none of the best. 

Croker's main hope was in his Boss. For here, again, in- 
nocent or guilty, political prestige was at stake. Kelly was 
bound to exert himself for a loyal follower who had come to 
grief in party service. The only drawback was that Kelly 
stood before the public as the apostle of a better Tammany 
and cherished his title of " Honest John." Still, within 


limits, Croker might rest assured that Kelly would do his 

The Boss gave no sign of side-stepping his obligations. 
When Croker was sent to the Tombs prison to await his trial 
for murder, both Kelly and Hewitt visited him, and when 
Croker assured them of his innocence, they publicly backed 
him and engaged eminent counsel in his defense. 

From the first, Croker had emphatically denied his guilt. 
At the time of his arrest he roundly stated: " I never carried 
a pistol in my life, and never will as long as I can use my 
hands." When his case came to trial some months later, 
" the evidence was conflicting and thin. Some eye-witnesses 
testified that they saw Croker fire the shot; others testified 
that Croker did not have a gun and never carried a gun. 
The jury remained out for seventeen hours and then re- 
turned to announce that they stood equally divided, six for 
conviction and six for acquittal, and that they could not 

" Croker was thereupon released, and he was never tried 
again. It was generally believed in later years that he did 
not fire the shot that killed McKenna, but that it was fired 
by his friend, George Hickey. General Wingate, who was 
of Croker's counsel, said after Croker's death that the man 
who fired the shot was standing next to Croker during the 
trial and intended to declare himself the murderer if the 
verdict was one of guilty. Croker, according to his lawyer, 
refused to permit proof to be submitted that his friend had 
fired the fatal shot." 2 Furthermore, Judge Barrett, who 
presided at the trial, stated many years later that, from what 
he had since learned, he was convinced that Croker was in- 
nocent of the crime. 

Croker had thus won clear of the shadow of the gallows. 


Yet its aftermath had to be lived down. He was out of a 
job, and none was in sight. Kelly was well disposed towards 
him, but for the moment he could do little. It was one thing 
to get his henchman out of jail; it was quite another publicly 
to favor a man very much under a cloud. Remember: 
Croker had not been acquitted j he had merely been re- 
leased through the disagreement of a "hung" jury. His 
trial had been widely featured in the newspapers, and his 
enemies had done their best to blacken his name. So no- 
torious a person simply could not be put on the city payroll. 

Unfortunately for Croker, he had no savings to fall back 
upon. Free-handed with his friends, and already devoted 
to the race-track, money had slipped through his fingers and 
he found himself almost broke. A New York j ournalist who 
knew Croker well gives us a striking glimpse of the straits 
to which the future Boss of Tammany was reduced during 
the next few years. 

" I never see Richard Croker in these days of wealth and 
renown," he writes, 3 " but I recall his disagreeable experi- 
ences after being released from prison. He was shunned by 
men of his own class, and found little assistance in his at- 
tempts to remove the stigma of prison from his name. He 
was in almost abject poverty. John Kelly gave him the 
opportunity to redeem himself. I do not believe the cir- 
cumstances have ever been related in print. 

" Croker appealed to Kelly to use his influence with the 
Mayor to appoint him to a job of minor importance. Kelly 
and the Mayor were not on good terms j but Kelly, who was 
friendly to Croker, sent for a mutual friend and urged him 
to assist his protege. That friend has since told me of his 
first meeting with Croker. 

"Kelly called Croker from an adjoining room. Croker, 


in a suit of clothes almost threadbare from constant wear, and 
twirling a well-worn soft brown slouch hat in his hand, 
came in and stood looking stolidly at Kelly. 

" Now, Richard,' said Kelly, * I want you to tell this 
gentleman what you are after. He will help you. 7 

" In a few jerky words, Croker said that he had applied 
to several officials for a position. He knew there was a 
vacancy in one of the departments. c But they won't give 
it to me,' he said, c and I don't know what to do. I've got 
my district behind me, and I go to City Hall every day and 
hang about and try to see the Mayor. He won't see me. 
When I speak to him in the halls, he don't notice me. I 
guess it's because of that case against me.' 

" c What case? ' asked the Mayor's friend. 

" c For killing McKenna,' replied Croker. < They think 
I did it. I didn't, though. I want work. I've just got to 
have it.' 

" Croker remained standing during the entire interview, 
twirling his slouch hat and looking at the floor, until Kelly 
dismissed him, after saying to the Mayor's friend: c Now, 
I know that Richard is a worthy boy (Croker was then over 
32 years old). I know he means well and is a good party 
worker. I wish you would help him.' 

" Ten minutes later, when the Mayor's friend came down 
from Kelly's office in the building at the corner of Park 
Place and Broadway, he found Croker leaning against a 
lamp-post. Night was coming on, and it had begun to snow. 
Croker wore no overcoat. He looked disconsolately at the 
crowds shifting and separating through City Hall Park; his 
hands in his pockets, and his face wearing an expression of 
utter dejection. He admitted, when interrogated, that he 
did not have the money to pay his fare uptown to deliver to 


the Mayor the letter which had been given him. In this 
hour o sore need, the Mayor's friend assisted himj and it is 
a tribute to Croker's sense of gratitude that he has since re- 
turned the loan with interest ten thousandfold." 4 

So Croker was once more on the payroll. It was a poor 
job a terrible come-down for one who had held a Coroner- 
ship worth $15,000 a year. But Croker took it thankfully, 
and dug harder than ever into politics. Never was there 
a more faithful and tireless party " worker." And this in- 
domitable persistence was bound to reap its reward in the 
long run. 

However, for the time being, progress was discouragingly 
slow. Plodding away at his job and his district chores, " his 
sole diversion was the race-track, which he followed as per- 
sistently as he did politics. It was only a short time after his 
appearance in Kelly's office as a suppliant for a $3 a day job 
that he confided to a friend at Saratoga that he had lost his 
last dollar on a race, and didn't know how he was going to 
get back to New York. He complained at that time that 
' That crowd in New York won't let me in. I can't make 
any money.' " 5 

These lean years of set-back and obscurity played their 
part in forging the iron of Croker's soul. His arrest and 
imprisonment for a crime he probably did not commit tem- 
pered his character and hardened his self-control. In the 
easy days of his first prosperity, Croker still retained much 
of the rough swagger of his gangster days. When he again 
began climbing fortune's path, he had become shrewdly 
silent ; saying little, observing much, cautiously testing each 
step of the way. 

It was Boss Kelly who gave Richard what ultimately 
proved to be his golden opportunity. As already remarked, 


Kelly had liked Richard from the first. Watching him care- 
fully, Kelly noted Croker's silent industry and devoted party 
zeal. Might not Croker make an ideal right-hand man? 
the confidential assistant at headquarters whom Kelly needed 
and had long been looking for? It was worth trying. 

So, one fine day, Croker found himself in the Boss's pri- 
vate office. And, once there, he stayed. More and more, 
he made himself indispensable to his chief j more and more, 
Kelly leaned upon his model subordinate. 

Richard was climbing again. 



IN THE score of years which elapsed between Richard 
Croker's humble entry into politics and his arrival at the 
headship of Tammany Hall, the man underwent an 
extraordinary transformation. In 1864, the 22-year-old 
henchman of Jimmie the Famous was a mere ward heeler, 
doing the dirty work of his hard-handed, unscrupulous po- 
litical superior. A brawling gangster and election bully, 
young Croker was distinguished from dozens of his fellows 
only by tremendous physical strength, unflinching courage, 
and a certain innate capacity for command displayed since 
boyhood days. 

In 1885, the leader who seized the reins of power from 
John Kelly's dying hands had not only mastered Tammany 
but had also mastered himself. The truculent gang-chief, 
graduate of street brawls and eager for a fight at the drop 
of a hat, had become a man of silence and self-control. 
Though retaining all his courage and dominating energy, 
Croker had learned to govern by moral force, instead of by 
the fist. He had discovered the power that is in a word or 
look, rather than brutal shoutings and rough-and-tumble ex- 
ploits on the pavement. His dogged will had subordinated 
his lower and more repulsive instincts, and had steadily de- 
veloped his higher qualities. 

In fact, the former uncouth rough had become a really 
presentable figure. He had learned most of the social con- 



ventions, spoke fairly correct English, and dressed incon- 
spicuously and in good taste* His usual manner was quiet, 
reserved, and dignified. Most significant, his inborn genius 
for leadership, evolved by practice and fortified by success, 
so suffused his personality that even the casual observer 
realized that here was a master of men. This striking evolu- 
tion can be accounted for primarily, no doubt, to innate force 
of character; to good latent qualities beneath the rough ex- 
terior. Yet even these hidden traits would hardly have 
flowered so conspicuously unless fostered by favoring condi- 
tions. Full-grown men do not thus alter the tenor of their 
ways without the aid of new and compelling circumstances. 
And as we scan Richard Croker's early manhood, we see but 
one major factor which could have wrought the change 
the selective discipline of Tammany Hall. 

To be John Kelly's right-hand man was to sit at the feet 
of a master in the school of practical politics. And Richard 
proved an apt pupil. Silent, efficient, never openly opposing, 
somehow getting results, Croker became indispensable to the 
grizzled autocrat who had fewer friends and more foes with 
every passing year. 

Banking on Richard's ability and loyalty, Kelly opened 
his confidence. Bit by bit, the old Boss gave his henchman 
the benefit of his ripe experience, until Croker knew every 
trick in the game. It was from Kelly that he absorbed 
his profound knowledge of organization detail; from Kelly, 
also, he caught the pose of eloquent listener which he used 
so effectively in later life. Croker studied Kelly like a text- 
book, committed him to memory and bettered the in- 
struction in the end. 

To outward seeming, Croker's life was an eventless one. 
Quit of the brawling turmoil of ward politics and moving 


in the shadow of his exalted patron, Richard was out of 
the limelight. That, however, was as it should have been. 
Richard had had too much publicity of the wrong kind. 
Luckily, the public has a conveniently short memory. And 
there were several matters which Richard wanted forgotten. 

Though Boss Kelly's confidential man was unknown to 
the average citizen, he was well-known to insiders at Tam- 
many Hall. They saw which way the wind was blowing, 
and as the Boss devolved upon his trusted deputy an ever- 
larger measure of responsibility, they accorded him a cor- 
responding measure of deferential respect. More and more, 
Croker became the man to " see "5 the man to consult; the 
man to take orders from. It was a process of evolution, slow 
but sure. Shrewd observers realized that Croker was " in 
line " to succeed Kelly. For, as a Tammany notable once 
put it: " The headship of Tammany Hall is not an appoint- 
ment, but a growth." 

So time unobtrusively went by. Richard had apparently 
foresworn his hectic youth. A married man with a grow- 
ing family, he lived quietly, and no scandal tarnished his 
name. Beneath the surface, of course, he was deep in politics. 
And New York politics were then tangled beyond descrip- 
tion. As already remarked, the upheaval against Tweed had 
shattered the local Democracy into jarring fragments, and 
Tammany was merely one of several factions which wrangled 
endlessly for power and patronage. 

In this long struggle the chief protagonists were Tam- 
many Hall and the County Democracy. Both had their 
strong and weak points. The County Democracy boasted a 
somewhat larger following, and was led by men of wealth 
and social distinction, such as Abram S. Hewitt, the mil- 
lionaire merchant for whom Croker had so strenuously bat- 


tied; William C. Whitney, the Wall Street magnate; and 
that leader of the " silk-stocking " Democracy, William, R. 
Grace. On the other hand, the County Democracy could 
not match Tammany in discipline and aggressive driving- 
power. Kelly was a martinet who drilled his followers till 
they performed at the polls like regiments of grenadiers. As 
someone has aptly said: " Kelly found Tammany a horde; 
he left it a political army." Compact, flexible, trained down 
hard and fine, Kelly's Tammany was a perfect machine, ca- 
pable of great performance at the touch of a master-hand. 

But Kelly just lacked the master-touch. He could pre- 
pare magnificently, but he often bungled in action. Rigid, 
obstinate, vengeful, and intolerant of the slightest opposition, 
" Honest John " was foredoomed to blunder whenever he 
got outside his special field. That field was New York City 
politics, and here Kelly functioned well. Unfortunately, 
Kelly ventured into State and national politics; and then 
he led his devoted battalions to pitiable disasters which 
spelled defeat abroad and discomfiture at home. 

Kelly's first big mistake was his feud with Samuel J. Til- 
den, the Democratic State leader. Tilden was a man of 
wealth and ability. He had gained great popularity through 
his reform activities against the Tweed Ring, became Gov- 
ernor, and in 1876 almost won the Presidency. Such a man 
was one to walk wide of. Yet Kelly fell foul of him over 
matters of patronage. The quarrel came to a dramatic 
climax in the State campaign of 1879. Determined to block 
Tilden's candidate for Governor, Kelly ordered the Tam- 
many delegates to " bolt " the Democratic State Conven- 
tion, hold a rump convention of their own, and nominate 
Kelly himself. So iron was Tammany discipline that the 
delegates obeyed without a murmur. On election day, Kelly 


polled nearly 100,000 votes; and with the Democracy thus 
split, the Republican candidate nosed in by a small plurality. 

Kelly had thus won his immediate point. But his " vic- 
tory " struck at the very heart of Tammany's prestige. If 
Tammany stood for one thing, it was party regularity. From 
its earliest days the Hall had denounced "bolters" and 
" kickers " as the worst of traitors. Yet here was the Boss 
of Tammany Hall committing the very crime its traditions 
so strongly condemned! 

" Honest John " might hold his own followers stiffly in 
line, but he could not control the wave of wrathful in- 
dignation which rolled over the rest of the Democracy. Re- 
prisals came swiftly. The Democratic Mayor of New York 
refused Tammany its expected share of patronage, avowedly 
as punishment for its disloyal attitude. Worst of all, in 
the State Convention of 1881, the Tammany delegation was 
ruled out, and the County Democracy was declared the 
" regular " organization. 

Here, indeed, was a 'body-blow to the Tammany Tiger! 
Had it come a few years earlier, it might have been fatal. 
But now, so splendid was discipline that the organization 
merely closed ranks and marched onj somewhat lean and 
hungry, yet unbroken. 

These misfortunes should have taught " Honest John " a 
lesson. Apparently they did not 5 for within three years he 
had locked horns with another great Democrat Grover 

By this time a new spirit had begun to stir America's po- 
litical life. The old shibboleths of hidebound party loyalty 
and ruthless spoils-mongering were losing somewhat of their 
charm. A body of independent voters, known as " Mug- 
wumps," had appeared. Also, influential citizens of both 


parties condemned the spoils system and preached "civil 
service reform." And Grover Cleveland was avowedly 
sympathetic to both these developments. 

To Boss Kelly, all this was anathema. He stood four- 
square on the dogma of party discipline and the extremest 
application of Marcy's dictum: "To the victors belong the 
spoils! " 

Between two such contrasted natures, both equally deter- 
mined, friction was inevitable. Kelly certainly did nothing 
to avoid a major clash. At Albany, the Tammany Senators 
and Assemblymen stubbornly opposed Governor Cleveland's 
reform measures, and when the Governor protested to Kelly 
against these obstructive tactics he met with a rebuff. The 
fight was on! 

It came to a head at the Democratic National Convention 
of 1884. Grover Cleveland was the favorite. But John 
Kelly was so blinded by rage that he could not see the trend 
in the National Democracy. So once more the Tammany 
battalions were sent into a losing battle. Doggedly they 
fought on the Convention floor. Tammany's star orator, 
Thomas F. Grady, delivered a bitter philippic against Cleve- 
land, virulently assailing not only his public career but his 
private character as well. This, however, proved a boom- 
erang. Grady was hissed; and the Convention broke into 
thunderous applause when General Bragg of Wisconsin rose 
and uttered his famous retort: " We love him [Cleveland] 
for the enemies he has made! " In the eyes of the nation 
Tammany stood discredited and a bit ridiculous. 

Even Kelly's stubborn spirit winced under the blow. Yet 
he set his teeth and went grimly forward. Grover Cleve- 
land had been nominated. So be it. But he would be de- 
feated. Kelly openly made that boast. Tammany would 





not bolt this timej it would go through the motions, as per 
schedule. But the real work would be put into the local 
Mayoralty campaign, where a Tammany candidate was run- 
ning against William R. Grace, of the County Democracy. 
For against Grace, also, Kelly bore a personal grudge. 

The campaign was duly fought 5 November came and 
Cleveland and Grace both won! 

" Honest John " Kelly cracked and toppled like a sturdy 
oak before the axeman's stroke. Physically and spiritually 
broken, he was literally a nervous wreck. True, he was 
still nominal leader of Tammany Hall, and the news of 
his breakdown was carefully kept from the general public. 
But the insiders knew 3 and they also realized who was now 
in effective control. It was Richard Croker. 

Every afternoon, Kelly's lieutenant would visit the broken 
Boss at his home on West 69th Street, and would confer 
with the grizzled veteran as he sat in his big arm-chair. 
Then Croker would go forth to execute Kelly's orders 
as he, Croker,, saw fit. There was no open usurpation} the 
conventionalities were carefully observed. But the reins of 
power had slipped from the old Boss's nerveless fingers, and 
stronger hands must promptly gather them up. It was the 
inexorable law of the tribe. 

Alfred Henry Lewis, in his political novel, he 'Boss* 
wherein Croker (somewhat disguised) is the hero and Kelly 
appears as " Big John Kennedy," has a striking bit of dia- 
logue between the pair in Big John's last days. The con- 
versation is of course imaginary; yet it is so instinct with 
the cynical realism of that grim era that it is substantially 

Aware that he is done for, Big John gives his lieutenant 
the following sage advice: 


" You've got things nailed, an' Pm glad it's so. Now 
let me give you a few points; they may help you to hold 
down your place as Boss. 

" When it comes to handin' out th' offices an' th' con- 
tracts, don't play fav'rites. Hand every man what's comin' 
to him by th' rules of th' game. It'll give you more power 
to have men say you'll do what's square, than that you'll 
stick by your friends. Good men dead-game men, don't 
want favors ; they want justice. 

" Never give a man the wrong office; size every man up, 
an' measure him for his place th' same as a tailor does for 
a suit of clothes. If you give a big man a little office, you 
make an enemy ; if you give a little man a big office, you 
make trouble. 

" Flatter th' Mugwumps. O' course, their belfry is full 
of bats; but about half th' time they have to be your pals, 
d'ye see, in order to be Mugwumps. An' you needn't be 
afraid of havin' 'em around; they'll never ketch onto any- 
thing. A Mugwump, as some wise guy said, is like a man 
ridin' backward in a carriage; he never sees a thing until 
it's by. 

" Say c No ' nineteen times before you say c Yes ' once. 
People respect th' man who says c No,' an' his c Yes ' is 
worth more when he passes it out. When you say * No/ 
you play your own game ; when you say c Yes,' you're playin' 
some other duck's game. 

" Don't be fooled by a cheer or by a crowd. Cheers are 
nothin' but a breeze ; an' as for a crowd, no matter who you 
are, there would always be a bigger turnout to see you hanged 
than to shake your mit 

" Always go with th' current; that's th' first rule of leader- 
ship. It's easier; an' there's more water down stream 
than up. 


" Think first, last, and all th' time of yourself. You may 
not be of account to others $ but to yourself yer th' whole 
box o* tricks. Don't give a man more than he gives you. 
Folks who don't stick to that steer land either in bank- 
ruptcy or Bloomin'dale. 

"An' remember: while you're Boss, you'll be forced into 
many things ag'inst your judgment. The head of Tam- 
many is like th' head of a snake, and gets shoved forward 
by the tail. Also, like th' head of a snake, th' Boss is th' 
target for every rock that is thrown. 

" Have as many lieutenants as you can 5 twenty are safer 
than two. Two might fake up a deal with each other to 
throw you down 5 twenty might start, but before they got 
to you they'd fight among themselves. 

"Always pay your political debts; but pay with a jolly 
as far as it'll go. If you find one who won't take a jolly, 
throw a scare into him and pay him with that. If he's a 
strong, dangerous mug with whom a jolly or a bluff don't 
work, get next to him as fast as you can. If you strike an 
obstinate party, it's th' old rule for drivin' pigs. If you want 
? em p to go forward, pull 'em back by th' tails. 

a The whole science of leadership lies in what I've told 
youj an' if you can clinch onto it, you'll stick at th' top 
till you go away, like I do now, to die." 2 

Thus spake Big John Kennedy in the story. And thus 
thought a Honest John " Kelly in his last days. 

When the grim old Boss died, he left his confidential man 
in position to seat himself firmly on the vacant throne. 



WHEN Richard Croker grasped at the reins of power shortly 
before Kelly's death, he found he had a real job on his 
hands. Defeated and discredited alike in National, State, 
and City politics, Tammany had no friends and next to no 
patronage. The County Democracy ruled Manhattan j and 
Mayor-elect Grace would see to it that the Tiger was kept 
off the payroll. Tammany's only visible assets were iron 
discipline and a fairly good reputation; for " Honest John " 
had kept down graft, and even Tammany's enemies had to 
admit that it was considerably improved since Tweed's day. 

The Tammany Tiger was thus very much alive. But he 
was pretty hungry, and unless he soon got substantial 
nourishment he might starve and die. It was up to the new 
leader to get busy and get results. Otherwise, not even 
Kelly's veterans would keep step much longer. 

Croker's first moves were cautiously circumspect. No 
flourish of oratorical trumpets blared in the new regime. 
At the old leader's death, Croker took the apparently in- 
conspicuous post of Chairman of the Finance Committee of 
Tammany Hall, That post, however, was the key to the 
situation. The Finance Committee of Tammany was a 
peculiar institution. It was a Committee that rarely met 
and that kept no books. All organization moneys passed 
through the Chairman's hands. Accountable to no one, he 



could expend Tammany's revenues as he saw fit and con- 
trolled absolutely its vital sinews of wan 

There was no slackening of the reins, no let-up in dis- 
cipline. But the method was different. Kelly had been an 
autocrat who liked to make men feel it. Croker was after 
results, and realized that the iron hand should oft be hid 
in the velvet glove. Affecting an air of almost genial sim- 
plicity, Croker treated his district leaders as friendly equals, 
took pains to confer with them, and let every man have his 

Behind the scenes, action was really decided on by Croker 
and a few chosen colleagues. Here, again, Croker was taking 
no chances. He made no attempt, at this stage of the game, 
to play a lone hand. So he allied himself with a small knot 
of leaders; notably, Hugh J. Grant, Bourke Cockran, and 
Thomas F. Gilroy. 

Each of these men had some special quality needed for 
an effective combination. Grant was young, rich, well-edu- 
cated, with a pleasing personality. He lacked the forceful 
intelligence of his colleagues, but Croker did not want Grant 
for his brains; he wanted him for his " availability." Com- 
pletely dominated by Croker's stronger personality, Grant 
made an ideal Tammany candidate for high office whenever 
the time was ripe. 

Bourke Cockran, already known as " the silver-tongued 
orator," could stir a crowd and draft a platform like no one 
else. He was enormously popular with the masses, and was 
a great publicity manager. As for Gilroy, he was an or- 
ganization veteran, with hosts of " contacts " and with the 
trick of getting things smoothly and quietly done. 

Such were the "Big Four" who guided Tammany for 
the next few years. Later on, there were to be disputes and 


quarrels between them. But for the moment, the quartet 
sang sweet and low as a band of brothers. With Tammany 
out of power, there were no rich spoils to fight over. 

Their first step was to repair some of Kelly's blunders. 
They started with the State situation. So long as Grover 
Cleveland was in active control of the State Democracy, little 
could be done. But when the President-elect moved on to 
Washington in the spring of 1885, conditions changed. 
Cleveland, as Governor, had championed civil service re- 
form, and had relied both upon the progressive wing of his 
party and the independent voters known as Mugwumps. 
However, Cleveland had thereby offended most of the old 
party war-horses, and as soon as he left Albany a swift 
reaction ensued. David B. Hill, Cleveland's successor in 
the Governor's chair, was an old-line politician who hated 
Cleveland's new-fangled notions as heartily as John Kelly 
had done. Furthermore, Hill was rapidly building a per- 
sonal machine which was to dominate the " up-State " De- 
mocracy for many years. 

Holding as they both did to the old Jacksonian ideal of 
partisan politics, Hill and Croker had much in common, and 
a mutual friend now brought them together. This obliging 
intermediary was Edward Murphy, a prominent up-State 
Democrat. The son of a wealthy brewer of Troy (New 
York), Murphy controlled the local Democratic organiza- 
tion there and had recently become one of Hill's chief sup- 
porters. Murphy also knew Croker and had laid the basis 
for the close friendship which was thenceforth to subsist 
between them. 

Heartened by the prospect of Hill's support, Croker pre- 
pared to deliver his first blow in home politics. The year 
1885 was an " off-year," but there were the County offices to 


be voted for, and these would serve as an excellent trial of 
strength against Tammany's chief rival, the County De- 
mocracy. It would be a hard fight, for the rival faction held 
the County offices, as it did about everything else. Yet 
Croker knew that his leadership was on trial, and that defeat 
would mean not only a body-blow to Tammany but his own 
political finish as well. 

Swiftly and surely, Croker planned his initial campaign. 
The big political prize to be fought for was the 'office of 
Sheriff, a post with fees worth $50,000 a year. Hugh J. 
Grant should run for Sheriff 3 his personal popularity would 
go far to elect him, and would boost the rest of the Tammany 
ticket into the bargain. As for the Tammany platform, it 
was a red-hot assault on the County Democracy, straight 
from Bourke Cockran's sizzling pen. And the County De- 
mocracy, in its recent tenure of office, had certainly laid itself 
open to attack. 

The campaign was a whirlwind. The opening salvo was a 
series of sensational articles in the 3^ew Tork World, charg- 
ing the County Democracy with gross corruption, especially 
in the matter of street railway franchises given away by 
boodling Aldermen, many of whom were County Democrats. 
Hugh Grant had been on the Board of Aldermen and knew 
the "inside story" though he had kept himself clean. 
The articles in the World made a great sensation and led 
to the famous " boodle trials " of the ensuing year. 

Next, Governor Hill came to town and openly supported 
Tammany. It was at this time that he made his famous 
speech beginning: a I am a Democrat! " His address ex- 
tolled the principle of party regularity, assailed civil service 
reform, and ridiculed the Mugwumps in savage fashion. 

Then Bourke Cockran outdid himself in oratory designed 


to play upon racial and religious feeling. Hugh J. Grant 
was a prominent Irish Catholic. Accordingly, u Cockran 
appealed to the Irish vote to support Grant, who was a credit 
to his race. Cockran had the Irish from one end of Man- 
hattan Island to the other ablaze with racial pride and en- 
thusiasm. Some of them, after listening to Cockran's flights 
of oratory, believed that Grant's election would ensure Home 
Rule for Ireland." 1 

The result was all that Croker could have hoped for. 
Grant won in a walk, and practically the whole Tammany 
ticket pulled through. The proud County Democracy had 
been sadly jolted $ Tammany Hall went wild with joy, and 
Croker's position was assured. 

Croker was further aided by the general course of events. 
The trial of the " boodle Aldermen," which began in the 
spring of 1886, was the biggest scandal since the Tweed 
Ring. For months, New York was in a fever of excitement 
as disclosure after disclosure revealed wholesale bribery and 
corruption. Although some Tammany men were involved, 
it was proved that both Kelly and Croker had condemned 
their conduct, and Hugh Grant's clean record redounded 
strongly to Tammany's credit. -So Tammany gained no- 
tably in public favor, while the County Democracy was dealt 
a blow from which it never recovered. 

Croker thus emerged with flying colors from his first 
strenuous ordeal. Tammany's standing was vastly improved. 
It had acquired powerful up-State friends j it had defeated 
and partially discredited its most dangerous rival, and it 
once more had a good slice of patronage. No wonder that 
Croker easily maintained discipline and rapidly strength- 
ened his grip on the organization. Here was a leader after 
Tammany's own heart, and the Braves obeyed him gladly. 



When Richard Croker became the titular Boss of Tam- 
many Hall, he was in his forty-third year, and at the very 
height of his physical and mental powers. His burly frame, 
with its herculean shoulders, bespoke untapped reserves of 
health and vitality ; his black beard, though close-cropped, 
was of such plenteous growth as partially to conceal his grim 
mouth and jaw; his gray-green eyes, half-screened by shaggy 
brows, were alight with commanding authority. Indeed, 
Croker was the very archetype of the American Boss; the 
dynamic leader, rising from the social depths to the political 
heights by the sheer force that was in him. 

Yet, with all Croker's picturesqueness of personality, and 
despite his undoubted touch of genius, we must not view him 
as a strange, solitary apparition on the political scene. Croker 
was an outstanding and striking member of a class: the class 
of Bosses, who flourished abundantly throughout America in 
his day and generation. There was hardly a city of any size, 
from New York to San Francisco, and from Minneapolis to 
New Orleans, which did not generate a Boss of the authentic 
breed. 2 

Alfred Henry Lewis, who knew Croker well, has this to 
say of the great Boss: " At Tammany Hall he is perpetu- 
ally surrounded by a throng of henchmen. And in their 
midst is Croker; smooth, silent, bland. Yet there is not 
one about him whose measure he has not taken. In short, 
it's a game the game of politics. And Croker defeats 
these folk; and turns them, and twists them, and takes them 
in, and moves them about, and in all things does with 
them what one, expert, might do with children at a game of 
cards." 3 

Croker had no theories. He was practical and factful. 
He indulged in no day-dreams. " Doing things," he once 


said, when asked how he accounted for his success. " While 
most men sit around club windows, or at dinner, discussing 
political plans, I go among my people to find out what they 
are saying and doing. I don't waste any time in theories. 
I want reports that give me facts and figures. I don't make 
plans, to be forgotten overnight. I never went to bed on 
a theory in my life. As a matter of fact, I never went to bed 
at all if there was a plan to carry out, until I had learned 
whether it would suit or not. The best plans are those that 
result from a system. We don't have any theories at Tam- 
many Hall." 4 

Organization and discipline were the guiding stars in 
Croker's career. This he avowed many times. " Every suc- 
cessful enterprise," said he, " must have organization; with- 
out it, all things fall to pieces. Be it a store, or an army, or 
a church, or a political party, it must have organization and 
a head. If Fm a 'boss,' then a merchant, a bishop, or a 
general is a c boss '$ and the President is the big c boss * of 
all." 5 

In his novel, The 'Boss, Lewis makes his hero (who is, 
of course, Richard Croker) say, very truly: " Tammany was 
never more sharply organized. I worked over the business 
like an artist over an etching. Discipline was brought to a 
pitch never known before. My district leaders were the 
pick of the covey $ and every one, for force and talents of 
executive kind, fit to lead a brigade into battle. Under these 
were the captains of election precincts j and a rank below 
the latter came the block captains one for each city block. 
Thus were made up those wheels within wheels which, taken 
together, completed the machine. They fitted one with the 
other: block captains with precinct captains, the latter with 
district leaders, and these last with myself 5 and all like the 


wheels and springs and ratchets and regulators of a clock 5 
one sure, too, when wound and oiled and started, to strike 
the hours and announce the time of day in local politics with 
a nicety that owned no precedent." 6 

Of this elaborate machine Richard Croker was the mas- 
ter. Yet, in practice, his dictatorship had its limits 5 and 
this, not from lack of dominating will-power, but because 
he instinctively knew when to "go with the game." So 
close was Croker's finger upon Tammany's pulse that he 
sensed just when he was about to run counter to a tide of 
sentiment in the organization which might prove too strong 
for him. The instant he felt this, he changed his course. 

Croker was habitually close-mouthed and rarely spoke his 
mind. Perhaps the most revealing utterances he ever made 
were in a series of conversations with the famous English 
editor, William T. Stead, when they were fellow-passengers 
on a voyage from Liverpool to New York. 

" c Politics,' declared Croker, c are impossible without the 
spoils. It is all very well to argue that it ought not to be 
so. But we have to deal with men as they are, and with 
things as they are. . . 

" c Look the facts in the face. There are in our country 
and in New York a small number of citizens who might 
reasonably be expected to respond to the appeal of patriotic 
and civic motives. They are what you would call the 
cultured class 3 the people who have wealth, education, 
leisure. . . From them, no doubt, you might expect to meet 
with such response to your appeals as would enable you to 
run your State upon high principles and dispense with spoils. 

" c But if you were to expect any such thing, you would be 
very much disappointed. What is the one fact which all you 
English first notice in our country? Why, it is that the very 


crowd of which we are speaking, the minority of cultured 
leisured citizens, will not touch political work no, not 
with their little fingers. All your high principles will not 
induce a Mugwump to take more than a fitful interest in 
an occasional election. Why, then, when Mugwump prin- 
ciples won't make even Mugwumps work, do you expect 
the same lofty motives to be sufficient to interest the masses 
in. politics? 

" c And so,' I said, c you need to bribe them with spoils? ' 

" c And so,' Mr. Croker replied, c we need to bribe them 
with spoils. Call it so, if you like. . . When you have our 
crowd, you have got to do it in one way, the only way that 
appeals to them. I admit it is not the best way. But think 
of what New York is and what the people of New York 
are. One-half, more than one-half, are of foreign birth. 
We have thousands upon thousands of men who are alien 
born, who have no ties connecting them with the city or the 
State. They do not speak our language, they do not know 
our laws, they are the raw material with which we have 
to build up the State. How are we to do it with Mugwump 
methods? I tell you, it cannot be done. . . There is not a 
Mugwump in the city who would shake hands with them. 
Except to their employer, they have no value until they get 
a vote.' 

" ' And then they are of value to Tammany? ' I said, 

" c Yes, ? said Mr. Croker imperturbably, c and then they 
are of value to Tammany. And Tammany looks after them 
for the sake of their vote. . . If we go down into the gutter, 
it is because there are men in the gutter; and you have to go 
down where they are if you are to do anything with them.' " 7 

To think of Croker solely as the great Bossj the grim, 


silent leader, always on the job and forever plotting political 
campaigns, is to neglect the other Croker the red-blooded 
devotee of sport, with his close friendships, and warm loyal- 
ties, and chuckling sense of humor. The Boss's stern silence 
was to some extent a pose, picked up under Kelly, found 
useful, and cultivated until it became second nature. The 
Croker who mingled familiarly with the crowds at race- 
tracks and football-matches, who laughed and joked with 
his cronies, who was accessible to the lowliest of his fol- 
lowers, was the human Croker, when off-duty and having 
his fun. 

One of Croker's friends gives us some amusing glimpses 
of his lighter side. " Croker," he writes, " got much of his 
fun by playing horse with the politicians round him. . 
Croker's ability to discover the weak spot in any one 
amounted almost to genius. Any one he considered a c char- 
acter,' and who was smart enough to let Croker have fun 
with him, was sure of success at Tammany Hall. 

" It was also a fad of Croker's to pick out the under-dogs 
of life and push them to the front. If any one developed 
the big head, Croker was through with them. A leader was 
sure of making a hit with the Boss by hunting up some boy- 
hood friend of Croker's who was in need of help, particularly 
if the person had ever done Croker even a slight favon 
Such a person would either be given an office or be put in 
a position to make money. I remember one old fellow who 
had been a machinist in the New York Central Railroad 
shops. Croker had been his helper when a boy. He had 
grown poor. Croker heard of this and put him in the con- 
tracting business. The man became rich. His son is one 
of the rich men in New York today. 

" c Gratitude is the finest word I know,' said Croker. c I 


would much prefer a man to steal from me than to display 
ingratitude. All there is in life is loyalty to one's family 
and friends.' This was at once Croker's strength and weak- 
ness. By a supposed friend he was easily imposed on. Those 
who had a great personal affection for him were in the vast 
majority, and to them Croker's word was law." 8 Such was 
Croker the man. 



BENEATH the stable crust of American politics an under- 
ground trend now and th<n comes to the surface. America 
was founded in revolution. That revolution was quickly 
stabilized. Yet a radical minority existed which hoped to 
carry the revolutionary process much further, and its doc- 
trines have never been forgotten. 

Under favoring circumstances, a radical ferment gener- 
ates, usually taking the form of mushroom " third parties." 
Whenever this has happened, the two regular parties have 
tended to adjourn their differences and down the radical 
upstarts who threatened them both. 1 

New York City has had its share of these radical fer- 
ments. New York's bad housing conditions and glaring 
inequalities between poverty and wealth made social unrest 
inevitable. Furthermore, radical agitation in the metropolis 
involves peculiarly dangerous possibilities, owing to the 
presence of desperate elements ready for trouble on the 
slightest provocation. 

In the metropolis, as elsewhere, the two-party system has 
acted as an efficient stabilizer. It has kept within bounds 
social unrest and class hatreds which might otherwise have 
gotten out of hand. This is certainly true of Tammany 
Hall, the traditional Democratic organization. 

Tammany has always posed as the champion of "the 
masses," It has consistently denounced aristocracy, ridi- 



oiled "silk-stockings," and proclaimed the rule of "the 
plain people " in a way to delight the plebeian heart. On 
the other hand, Tammany's successive a regular " opponents 
(Federalists, Whigs, and Republicans) have catered to the 
upper and middle classes, and have capitalized the social 
and religious attitudes which regarded Tammany as wicked 
and vulgar. 2 Thus both sides have banged the bass drum 
of prejudice and have kept their respective followers in 

Occasionally, however, politics have become abnormal. 
Now and then a new crowd has appeared on the political 
scene j a crowd which refused to play the regular game and 
proposed sweeping changes in the rules. These disturbers 
denounced both the old parties and promised the people all 
sorts of alluring things which could be gotten only by tam- 
pering with the established social order and the vested 
rights of private property. In short, their program was 
radical and socialistic in character. 

When this happened, both the old parties promptly 
took alarm. That the Whig, and later the Republican, 
organization should have done so is self-evident. They 
were bound by the fears of their upper and middle class 

What is not so plain is that Tammany was threatened in 
even more fundamental fashion. Yet t this was the case. 
Tammany depends for its very existence upon the voting 
masses. It is the masses who are most affected by radical 
propaganda. Therefore, for every Whig or Republican 
vote which might switch to the new party, Tammany would 
lose at least five. Furthermore, Tammany was estopped by 
its very nature from keeping its backsliders from marching 
over to the radical campj because Tammany, while Demo- 


cratic, is not radical. In fact, Tammany Hall is essentially 
a conservative institution. Rooted in tradition and based 
upon hierarchic discipline, Tammany instinctively shrinks 
from sweeping changes. 

Herein, Tammany typifies all our "regular" political 
organizations. "Though the reformers fumed and raved, 
the hated political bosses were in truth (as that cool observer, 
James Bryce, quietly remarked) buffers between the rich 
and the poor; buffers who taxed the one to keep the other 
in good humor. The political levies and sometimes the 
flagrant corruption to which party managers resorted were 
chiefly for the purpose of acquiring the funds necessary to 
c take care of the boys '3 that is, to amuse them with balls, 
outings, and picnics, to supply them with clothing and 
funds in hard times, and to lend them money on occasion. 
Naturally there were brokers' charges on the collections, 
but these were small as compared with the cost of riots 
and revolutions." 8 

Tammany has shown itself to be an unusually effective 
safety-valve against a radical explosion. A well-known 
writer puts the matter aptly when he says: " The 90,000 
men who have surrendered their citizenship to Tammany 
might do far worse with it. In all their ignorance, and greed, 
and mendacity they might use that citizenship. If the time 
ever comes when they do use it unrestrained by the inter- 
vening agency of Croker, or his heirs or assigns, heaven pro- 
tect wealth and social order in New York City! Take away 
the steel hoops of Tammany from the social dynamite, and 
let it go kicking around under the feet of any cheap agitator, 
and then look out for fireworks. . . 

" With all the mould of feudalism which Tammany pre- 
serves, the Tammany-made citizen is more trustworthy than 


the citizen the red anarchists would make. . . For Tam- 
many preaches contentment. It tolerates no Jeremiahs." 4 

It was an upsurge of radical agitation that Croker had to 
face at the beginning of his chieftainship. There had been 
others before his time/ but none so well-led or so deter- 
mined. The whole country was affected by a current of 
unrest. In New York the radical trend crystallized into a 
powerful " Labor Party " headed by the redoubtable Henry 
George, whose book, "Progress and Toverty, had been an in- 
ternational sensation. 

Henry George's special panacea for society's ills was the 
"Single Tax "5 but he had assembled beneath his banner 
a varied following, ranging from mildly dissatisfied work- 
ingmen to radicals of the reddest shades. Hard times and 
labor disputes started the ball rolling 5 the persuasive oratory 
and magnetic personality of Henry George did the rest. 
The movement grew by leaps and bounds. Radical en- 
thusiasm ran through the tenement districts like a swift con- 
tagion. By the summer of 1886, the old parties realized 
that they were menaced by a popular tidal wave which might 
engulf them both. 

Forthwith the party leaders conferred together against 
the common peril. How far was united action possible? 
For the scattered clans of the Democracy to adjourn their 
factional quarrels was relatively easy. Accordingly Tam- 
many and the County Democracy agreed to present a united 
front in the autumn campaign. 

The coalition champion was none other than Abram S. 
Hewitt. From every point of view, Hewitt was the ideal 
candidate for the occasion. Though a member of the County 
Democracy, Hewitt had no special feud with Tammany and 
was well liked by Croker, who did not forget the old mer- 


chant's efforts on his behalf when he stood on trial for his 
life. Furthermore, Hewitt, the millionaire merchant, with 
his good business reputation and his financial contacts, could 
rally the moneyed interests as the " savior of society " against 
the threat of " mob-rule." 

That was the key-note. And it worked. Bankers and 
business men, regardless of party, opened wide their purses; 
and Richard Croker, the coalition campaign manager, soon 
had a record-breaking camapign fund. 

He needed it! For his confidential reports told him un- 
mistakably that, in default of heroic measures, Hewitt was 
beaten and the Laborites would take the town. 

Now, how about the Republicans? In this supreme 
emergency, could they not be swung into line under Hewitt's 
banner? The Republican leaders were, for the most part, 
willing enough; but they found it impossible to "deliver" 
the bulk of their followers. Party regularity was too strict 
in those days for such an ultra-realistic manoeuvre. Rather 
than vote Democratic, thousands of Republicans would un- 
doubtably plump for Henry George. So a Republican ticket 
had to be provided for these hidebound partisans, headed 
by a Mayoralty candidate in the person of Theodore Roose- 
velt, a strenuous young man just getting into the political 

Croker's campaign strategy that autumn was a masterpiece 
of " practical politics." His spellbinders rang all the changes 
on the " red peril " and frightened timid middle-class voters 
almost into fits with dire predictions of the revolutionary 
wrath to come. 

Croker knew, however, that he could not compete with 
Henry George in oratory. So other methods were used 
less spectacular, but highly efficacious. " The boys " were 


flush with greenbacks as they never had been before. Down 
in the tenement districts, each block and precinct captain 
conned his voting-list as piously as a churchman tells his 
beads, and put on the last ounce of pressure to hold wavering 
followers in line. And (unless the weight of evidence be 
false) a host of repeaters was mobilized, not only from local 
sources but also from Philadelphia and the Jersey towns. 

Election day came; the votes were counted and Abram 
S. Hewitt topped the poll by more than 20,000. The Tam- 
many dyke had held! The radical wave had broken in a 
welter of foam and spray. 

Laborites might cry "Fraud! " and indignantly protest 
that they had been grossly counted out. That did them no 
good. Their hour had passed. The old parties could feel 
reasonably sure that, though Henry George might run 
again in the next election two years hence, the radical wave 
would then have so far spent itself that it would be a minor 
factor. As a matter of fact, Croker was never called upon 
to confront a similar crisis again. 

This momentous victory completed Tammany's come- 
back, and of course clinched Croker's hold on the chieftain- 
ship. For who within the organization could successfully 
challenge his authority? Had he not restored Tammany to 
party primacy and fed it deep on patronage? Was not the 
new Mayor pledged to give the Tiger its full share of the 

And the Boss did not forget himself. Promptly after in- 
auguration day, Mayor Hewitt appointed Richard Croker to 
the post of Fire Commissioner of New York at a fat salary. 

As Big John Kennedy remarked: "A good cook always 
licks his fingers." 



FOR many years the plight of the local Democracy had been 
a grief to campaign managers and a scandal to the faithful. 
Split into snarling factions gnawing on the same bone of 
patronage, these family rows were as sordid as they were 

Though Republican weakness kept New York City safely 
Democratic, the local situation reacted badly on Democratic 
State and National politics. Despite their best efforts, out- 
siders were often involved, and then the disgruntled faction 
would take its chance at the polls. Boss Kelly's personal 
feuds cost the State Democracy a Governorship, and Kelly 
hurt Tilden's Presidential chances in 1876, while his opposi- 
tion to Cleveland was notorious. Much the same was true 
of the other Democratic factions, who sometimes made trai- 
torous " deals " with the Republicans for their own selfish 
ends. Indeed, Democratic " soreheads " would often desert, 
bag-and-baggage, to the common enemy. When we come 
to view the local Republican organization we shall find that 
many of its best party " workers " were ex-Democrats 
even ex-Tammany men. 

Richard Croker had, from the first, determined to re- 
forge the local Democracy, shattered since Tweed's day. 
Henry George's radical eruption had compelled him to sus- 
pend his attack upon his chief rival. In fact, the Laborites 



were still so vociferous that Tammany and the County 
Democracy prolonged their truce through 1887, putting up 
a joint ticket for the County offices. The elections showed 
that the Labor Party was definitely on the wane. Its vote 
fell off one-half from that of the Mayoralty contest the pre- 
vious year, and the coalition ticket won easily. Exultant at 
the end of the radical peril, and further cheered by a victory 
up-State, Democratic enthusiasm ran riot. The Herald re- 
ported: " Last night the city was in a roar of excitement over 
the great Democratic victory. All the incidents of the 
feverish day were swallowed up in the one tremendous fact 
that the triumphant Democracy had scattered its enemies. 
The streets were ablaze with bonfires, and around the flaming 
heaps thousands of boys danced and whooped. The hotels 
fronting on Madison Square were packed with squirming, 
delirious multitudes." * 

Behind the scenes, Tammany and the County Democracy 
were girding on their armor for a fight to a finish. Their 
immediate tactics, however, were a joint hunting-expedition 
against their minor rivals. A number of little factions still 
survived, such as a rump of the old " Irving Hall Democ- 
racy," and these guerilla bands were a chronic source of 
trouble. Both Tammany and the County Democracy de- 
termined to conscript the bushwhackers into their respective 
forces. It was a race to see which should get the most re- 
cruits, and honors seem to have been fairly even. But the 
immediate objective was attained. The guerilla organiza- 
tions were practically exterminated, and the two regular 
armies, strengthened in numbers, made ready for clean-cut 

That battle was due in the next Mayoralty election. Long 
before the actual campaign, however, Croker had thrown 


out a far-flung net of skillful preparation. The year 1888 
was a Presidential year. Grover Cleveland would undoubt- 
edly be renominated for another term in the White House, 
while Governor Hill wanted to succeed himself. Croker 
planned uproarious support for both, thereby advertising 
Tammany's " regularity " on a national scale and winning at 
least their neutrality in his own local war. 

Tammany certainly needed some good advertising, for 
its reputation with the nation was very bad indeed. The 
whole country still thought of Tammany in terms of the 
Tweed Ring. Furthermore, Kelly's blunders had so com- 
promised Tammany with the National Democracy that at 
the last three National Conventions its delegates had been 
openly booed and hissed. 

A piquant description of the Tiger's notoriety during that 
period is given us by a well-known political writer, who says: 
" I first knew Tammany Hall when I was a little school- 
boy in Saint Louis. The Democratic National Convention 
of 1876, which nominated Tilden for President, was held 
there. I was attending a boarding school on Chanteau Ave- 
nue, and the boys were told that it was not safe to be out 
after dark when Tammany arrived in town. The two dear 
old ladies who conducted the school gave their pupils to 
understand that Tammany was located in a part of New 
York City known as the Five Points, where all the in- 
habitants were thugs and murderers. Some of the older lads, 
who surreptitiously read dime novels, told the younger boys 
that Tammany would probably shoot up and rob the town. 
One Saint Louis paper, a Tilden organ, actually advised the 
merchants to bolt their doors and put up the shutters when 
Tammany arrived. A couple of my more adventurous com- 
panions and myself slipped out after we were supposed to 


be in bed. We started for one of the big hotels, but had not 
gone far when we saw two flashily-dressed men in high 
white hats and adorned with Tammany badges. Their cigars 
stood in their mouths at an angle of 45 degrees. We boys 
ran across the street. We felt it our duty to warn our 
neighbors that Tammany had invaded Chanteau Avenue." 2 

Such was the evil heritage, alike in nation and party, with 
which Croker had to reckon. He may not have sweetened 
the Tiger's reputation much with the average citizen, but 
among the politicians he certainly got results. In a widely- 
heralded press interview, Croker announced: "Tammany 
Hall this year is going to demonstrate by its united, hearty, 
and loyal support of the National ticket that it is entitled to 
be called the exponent of true Democracy j and the results 
will prove that, as well as being the oldest, it is the strongest 
and most faithful Democratic organization in the country. 
We will sink or swim with the National ticket this time, for 
the day has gone by when any doubt can be raised as to 
Tammany's loyalty." 

Croker also gave orders that Tammany should make a 
grand showing at Saint Louis, where the Democratic Na- 
tional Convention was to be held. Every Tammanyite who 
had the price was ordered to attend in full regalia. The 
resulting turn-out was a show worth coming far to see. Tam- 
many, with Croker at its head and a dozen bands, marched 
into Saint Louis and was received with open arms. What 
a change from its reception twelve years before! Tammany 
and Croker were roundly cheered, in and out of the Con- 
vention Hall. It was a great triumph for them both. 

The reward was soon apparent. The County Democracy 
prided itself upon being a " Cleveland " organization, and 
had endorsed the President's ideal of civil service reform j 


whereas Tammany was frankly for the spoils system and 
could not, in its heart of hearts, be wildly enthusiastic over 
Grover Cleveland. The County Democracy had therefore 
hoped for the President's support, or at least his approval. 
Throughout the ensuing municipal campaign, Cleveland 
and his entire administration maintained a strict neutrality. 

At the Democratic State Convention, likewise, Croker won 
an important political skirmish. Governor Hill was resolved 
to succeed himself. But " Cleveland Democrats " had no 
love for this avowed " spoilsman," and talked of nominating 
that prominent member of the County Democracy, ex-Mayor 
William R. Grace. This gave Croker the chance to come 
out strongly for Hill. The Governor promptly recipro- 
cated by pulling wires in the Convention whereby the num- 
ber of Tammany delegates was increased and the strength 
of the County Democracy was proportionately cut down. 
Here again, what a change since Kelly's day, when the Tam- 
many delegates had been thrown out of the State Convention 
and the County Democracy declared the " regular " organi- 
zation! The priceless asset of party regularity was once 
more in Tammany's grasp. And it alone meant thousands 
of otherwise doubtful votes. 

Meanwhile, the course of events in Manhattan itself was 
in Tammany's favor. The County Democracy would run 
Mayor Hewitt again ; no doubt about that. He was their 
man, and they were pledged up to the hilt. But during 
his term, the Mayor had committed several political blunders 
which rendered him somewhat of a liability. Old and irasci- 
ble, Hewitt lacked tact; as, for instance, when he had deeply 
offended the Irish by refusing to review a Saint Patrick's 
Day parade. Furthermore, Hewitt prided himself on his 
independence, and bristled at anything that savored of die- 


tation. This had led to a breach with Croker over matters 
of patronage. The old debt of friendship dating from the 
McKenna trial was cancelled. 

Croker felt well satisfied with the outlook. A bit of clever 
baiting roused Hewitt's wrath and led him to give out a 
heated interview about the Tammany Boss; to which Croker 
replied sarcastically: " I understand that Mayor Hewitt has 
alluded to me as a c spoilsman. 5 If I am a * spoilsman, 5 as 
he says, I never neglect to secure employment for a de- 
serving needy man, instead of having him turned away from 
the door by an English lackey." 8 

The line of attack was plain. In the coming campaign, 
Hewitt would be denounced by Tammany's spellbinders as 
a millionaire, an aristocrat, an Anglomaniac, and a camou- 
flaged A.P.A. That, indeed, was the key-note a fortnight 
later, when Bourke Cockran made the Wigwam rock with 
oratory, while the Boss, silent and watchful as usual, sat on 
the platform and smiled grimly behind his beard as a the 
boys " went wild. 4 On that same occasion the Tammany 
standard-bearer was duly led forth Croker's prize candi- 
date, Hugh J. Grant. 

The campaign was one of the liveliest in years. A Mayor- 
alty contest filled with emotional appeals and bitter per- 
sonalities, coinciding with a close-fought Presidential con- 
test, kept Manhattan in the throes of political fever. On 
election eve, near-riots broke out, quelled only by prompt 
police charges and vigorous clubbings with heavy night- 

With so strenuous an election eye, the scenes on election 
night can be imagined. The polls had barely closed when 
it became clear that Hewitt had been snowed under and 
that Grant had won a sweeping victory. Indeed, so badly 


had the old Mayor been beaten that he actually ran behind 
the Republican candidate, while Grant's plurality was nearly 
40,000. The County Democracy had been routed, horse, 
foot, and artillery 5 and Tammany owned the town! 

Down on i4th Street, the scene baffled description. As 
the press reported it: " At one time last night nearly 6000 
men filled Tammany Hall and almost made the walls bulge. 
Never had there 'been such enthusiasm shown in the old 
Wigwam. There were no seats on the floor. Men were 
packed together as close as well, they were as close to- 
gether as postage stamps on an envelope. It was a mystery 
how that wedged mass of humanity could breathe, let alone 
move. The 6gth Regiment Band was on hand early and 
discoursed inspiring music. Later in the evening there were 
Irish airs and war-dances." 

Over at Mayor-elect Grant's headquarters in the Union 
Square Hotel, the Boss stood amid a surging crowd of 
frenzied admirers and issued this significant statement: " It 
is a momentous victory. Next year, Tammany Hall will 
hold its centenary anniversary. It will then be, as it always 
has been, the only real Democratic organization in the city. 
When Mr. Grant assumes the reins of government, he will 
be a reform Mayor in action j not in words or garrulous 

Meanwhile, the Presidential contest hung in the balance. 
So close were the returns that victory wavered continually, 
and not until long after midnight was it known that Cleve- 
land had been defeated and that Benjamin Harrison, the Re- 
publican candidate, had won the race. So nothing dimmed 
the enthusiasm of triumphant Tammany or of the pre- 
dominantly Democratic city crowds. 

" Under the stars the city waited to see which party had 


won. And what a city it was! A city that thrilled and 
throbbed from river to river; its streets aflame with thou- 
sands of bonfires, and great black multitudes roaring and 
surging about with no thought of sleep now in convulsions 
of delight, and now in agonies of despair. . . 

a It was a close fight, and everyone knew it. All they 
could do was to wait and strain their eyes and shout till their 
throats were hoarse. None could possibly know the result 
early in the evening} none, unless they were the party man- 
agers and they sat pale and nerveless in their inner dens, 
sending forth alternate bulletins of hope and dread. 

" In Madison Square, 30,000 people stood in front of 
the Herald bulletin, and the sound of their voices was 
like the beating of wild waves through a cavern. Along the 
edges of this vast multitude were the blazing corridors of 
the hotels, in which half-crazed men with flushed faces and 
bloodshot eyes waved handfuls of money, and with blas- 
phemous boastings sought out their opponents. Crowds of 
drunken men swirled into the tumultuous scene from every 
corner of the city. Dainty ladies, who had ventured from 
their homes, shrank back from the wild, savage uproar of 
the city's unwashed hosts. White-haired, feeble men crept 
out and got into snug positions where they could watch the 
varying returns and tell the roystering young men around 
them that it was a more glorious night than even the old 
times ever saw. 

" Down in front of the newspaper offices a prairie of faces 
seemed to be spread out from grim Saint PauPs to the Brook- 
lyn Bridge. When the cars passed through them, the crowds 
parted like water and flowed together again in the wake, 
hurrahing and swaying with passion. 

" From Democratic headquarters at the Hoffman House 




came a steady roar of c Four! Four! Four years more! ', 
and ladies could be seen leaning out of the windows of the 
Fifth Avenue Hotel beating time with bandannas and shout- 
ing Democratic war-cries at the top of their voices. Through 
the quieter streets rushed hundreds of newsboys, filling the 
air with wild, mad cries." 5 

Dawn brought National Democratic defeat. Yet Tam- 
many men had lost little thereby. The White House was 
not in their bailiwick, and Grover Cleveland was not of their 
kind. Everything that really mattered had been won. Tam- 
many now owned Manhattan; it had routed its rivals; it en- 
joyed the favor of its up-State ally, firmly seated in the 
Governor's chair. Who could reasonably ask for more? 

By contrast, the camp of the County Democracy was filled 
with gloom, though the leaders whistled to keep up their 
courage. As one of them, William M. Ivins, remarked: 
" I think the organization will plug along as usual. There 
must be a watch-dog on Tammany, you know. If the 
County Democracy were to dry up and blow away tomorrow, 
there would be another anti-Tammany organization in this 
city within twenty-four hours." 

That, however, was cold comfort to those who faced the 
dreary prospect of losing their jobs on New Year's Day 
when Mayor Grant would take over City HalL One hope 
alone remained to climb swiftly on the Tammany band- 
wagon. So the ranks of the County Democracy began to 

Thenceforth the County Democracy rapidly declined. 
Though it allied itself openly with the Republicans in the 
elections next year, Tammany beat this Fusion ticket and 
won nearly all the remaining offices. 

In 1890, the County Democracy's waning hopes were re- 


vived by two important events: Richard Croker sailed for 
Europe in bad health, and the Republican State machine ap- 
pointed a Legislative Committee of inquiry into New York 
City politics known as the Fassett Investigation. 6 

Heartened by these developments, the County Democracy 
and the Republicans again launched a Fusion ticket 5 and a 
real non-partisan Reform organization, the People's Munici- 
pal League (created by the Fassett disclosures) fell into 
line. Yet Tammany triumphed over the coalition, and 
Mayor Grant was re-elected by a reduced plurality of about 
20,000. The County Democracy was now a mere shadow 
of its former self and had become little more than a satellite 
of the local Republican machine. Vainly did it call itself 
" The Cleveland Democracy." It might acclaim Grover 
Cleveland, but that gentleman was not minded to recipro- 
cate. He was again a Presidential candidate, and would cer- 
tainly not jeopardize his chances in pivotal New York by 
lending ear to a discredited faction. Moreover, Richard 
Croker was on hand with convincing proofs of Tammany 
loyalty. At the Chicago Convention of 1892, the Boss ap- 
peared at the head of the snappiest body of uniformed men 
that Tammany had ever turned out on parade. 

That autumn, the Democracy won all along the line. 
Cleveland was given another term in the White House, while 
Tammany elected another Mayor the astute Thomas F. 

Those were great days for Croker and for Tammany. 
The organization was at its best. It was social as well as 
political. In each of the thirty districts the Tammany organ- 
ization owned a substantial club-house. Meetings were held 
once or twice a week, and were well attended. Croker in- 
sisted that the small shopkeepers in the different districts be 


given prominence and that every courtesy be shown them. 
They were made to feel that they were an important part of 
Tammany. This policy pleased them, and gave Tammany 
strength and respectability. 

Everyone connected with Tammany seemed prosperous. 
The street railways were then spending vast sums in chang- 
ing from horse to cable cars, and there were plenty of contracts 
to go round. 

Croker, once more in good health, kept the wheels of 
the big machine turning from his sanctum at the Wigwam. 
The Boss's office was on the first floor, at the right of the 
entrance to Tammany Hall. It was a rather large room, 
furnished with plain, straight-backed chairs. The only 
decorations were a life-sized figure of an Indian chief clutch- 
ing a tomahawk, a huge American eagle, and some portraits 
of Tammany Sachems upon the walls. In one corner stood 
a big iron safe. 

The back of the room was equipped with folding-doors 
which, when shut, closed off a dark little cubby-hole where 
Croker's desk was placed. There, he could discuss, in abso- 
lute privacy, confidential matters. 

In these characteristic quarters the Boss was to be found 
almost every day, and during campaigns until far into the 
evening. Thither the district leaders came to consult with 
the Boss and with one another 5 so that Croker's office became 
a general rendezvous for Tammany notables. They were 
sure to learn the latest news about politics; and it was also 
well to pay tacit homage to the Boss by being frequently 
under his eye. 

Croker had now attained one of his goals: reunion of the 
New York City Democracy under the aegis of Tammany 
Hall. True, a few disgruntled cliques survived} but these 


guerilla bands, while sometimes annoying, could do no real 

The only foes worth considering were the Republican 
machine and the non-partisan Reform movement, which, 
though destined to become formidable, was as yet in its in- 
fancy. The outstanding fact in New York politics at that 
moment was that the once shattered Manhattan Democracy 
had been so well mended that the cracks barely showed. 



BY 1890, Richard Croker was Master of Manhattan. Within 
its boundaries no man or set of men remained who could 
effectively dispute his sway. Yet in that very year, the polit- 
ical stroke known as the Fassett Investigation disclosed the 
presence of a formidable external foe with whom the Tam- 
many chieftain would have seriously to reckon. That foe 
was the head of the up-State Republican machine, Thomas 
Collier Platt. 

When the Queenstown packet landed its immigrant cargo 
three-year-old Richard Croker included a pale, 
delicate-looking boy of thirteen, familiarly called " Tom " 
Platt, was going to school in the little town of Owego, Tioga 
County, Central New York. 

Scarcely more than a village, Owego was a typical country 
town of the period: isolated, self-contained, and conditioned 
by the sincere yet narrow Puritanism of most rural com- 
munities. Tom's father, a local lawyer and a rigid Presby- 
terian, wanted his son to be a minister. In this, the elder 
Platt failed 5 but he did bring Tom up as a model youth 
quiet, well-mannered, fond of study, regular at church and 
In personal habits. 

Platt senior also determined his son^s political faith. 
Young Platt grew to manhood in the stirring years before 
the Civil War. In those days Republicanism was sweeping 



rural New York like a religious revival 5 and in Owego, the 
elder Platt was one of the new Party's charter members. 
Tom first voted in the Presidential election of 1856, and 
naturally cast his ballot for John C. Fremont, the Republican 
candidate. "The excitement of those days made a deep 
impression upon his mind and furnished the root of that 
unquestioning loyalty to the Republican Party which he dis- 
played in later life." 1 

Herein, Platt typified his times. The Civil War split 
the population of the Empire State along sharp lines of 
sectional feeling. We have already seen how it turned New 
York City into a rock-ribbed Democratic stronghold. But, 
above the Bronx, the same process converted up-State New 
York to equally rock-ribbed Republicanism. Thenceforth, 
State and metropolis confronted one another in a political 
war the bitterness of which was notorious even in times when 
party regularity was the watchword throughout the Union. 

This extreme partisanship was based upon much the same 
differences which had envenomed metropolitan politics in 
the forties, but which were now projected on a wider scale. 
On one side stood the Manhattan Democracy, dominated by 
(and largely composed of) Irish Catholics, with their Old- 
World outlook and their spirit of clan and sept. On the 
other side stood the bulk of the native- American Protestants, 
with their staunch Puritan ideals and their upstanding 
pioneer individualism. Now add to all this the innate an- 
tagonism between city and country 5 between urban and rural 
manners, habits, and attitude towards life, and we can visu- 
alize the depth of the resulting political cleavage. 

Under such conditions, political machines flourish and 
bosses rule. Men thus deeply divided instinctively join one 
or other of the political armies, cheerfully endure the strictest 


party discipline, and obey orders so implicitly that their lead- 
ers can move them about like pawns on a chess-board. Fur- 
thermore, the ranks are automatically recruited from the 
rising generation, since sons tend to follow the political faith 
of their fathers as a matter of course. 

It was, therefore, as a devoted partisan that young Tom 
Platt entered the Republican army as a private and began 
his long upward climb toward supreme power and authority. 
And it is interesting to note that, while the social and cul- 
tural conditions of his apprenticeship differed utterly from 
Richard Croker's, the political objectives were essentially the 

In the first place, the political careers of both men began 
as an instinctive process rather than as the result of con- 
scious determination. Platt himself tells us that he " drifted 
into politics just drifted." 2 That was precisely what 
young Dick Croker did; only he drifted in by way of the 
gang and the corner saloon, whereas Tom Platt did so via 
the drug-store! " In Owego, as in many other small towns 
of New York, saloons were frowned upon in the fifties, and 
the drug-store or general store was the centre where the 
* elder statesmen ' congregated to discuss politics and the 
questions of the day." 3 

Young Platt found himself strategically placed, because 
he started life as a drug-store clerk. Be sure that he used 
his ears and made useful acquaintances. Also, stimulated 
by the discussions he heard, he seems to have spent his leisure 
time reading and studying political literature, especially the 
speeches of famous Republicans like Thurlow Weed. 

So greatly did Platt relish his calling that he presently 
established a drug-store of his own, which became the civic 
centre of his community. For many years thereafter most 


of the political work of the County was done in the little 
office in the rear of this store. 

Slowly but surely, Platt became a power in County and 
State politics. He had his reverses, to be sure, but his net 
progress was unmistakable. Platt's cleverness in dispensing 
patronage was widely acknowledged; his appointees were 
to be found scattered everywhere in the State and Federal 

service. 4 

It was at approximately the same moment (about 1890) 
that Platt and Croker stood forth as the recognized Bosses 
of their respective organizations. 

And it is then that the basic similarity of their Boss-ships 
becomes most apparent. Both men avoided high-sounding 
titles and ruled modestly as committee chairmen; Croker's 
Finance Committee of Tammany Hall being paralleled by 
Platt's Republican State Committee the apex of a com- 
mittee hierarchy which extended down to the smallest rural 
communities, yet which functioned organically as a smooth- 
working machine of the highest efficiency. Both used patron- 
age and campaign funds as their sine^ws of power. Both 
exalted the same ideals of organization, discipline, and 
uncompromising partisanship. Both sincerely believed that 
party victory was an end which justified almost any means. 

Platt and Croker alike owed their success in large measure 
to their intense concentration upon politics. If anything, 
Platt carried his political preoccupation to greater extremes. 
Croker had a love for horses and open-air sport as avocations. 
Platt had no hobby, and Roosevelt said truly that he could 
not find in Platt " any tastes at all except for politics, and 
on rare occasions for a very dry theology wholly divorced 
from moral implications." 6 

Plait's religion, however, did not interfere with his poll- 


tics. In New York City, Platt attended Dr. Parkhurst's 
church until, one Sunday, the militant Doctor nearly startled 
his distinguished parishioner out of his pew by announcing 
that one Platt was worse than five Crokers. Platt changed 
his church at once. 

Both in New York and in Washington, Platt lived at 
hotels and rarely went out in society. Utterly absorbed in 
his passion for politics, Platt could concentrate willingly 
upon petty detail which Croker found boresome. 

Yet, despite their similarities, how amazingly different 
were the two men! Contrast the burly Tammany chieftain 
with the slim, fragile leader of the Republican machine. 
Croker looked like a prize-fighter 5 Platt like a shy recluse. 
Croker was The 'Boss incarnate ; Platt, with his parchment- 
like skin and delicate figure, was perfectly camouflaged. 
"Strangers who first saw him often exclaimed: c That Tom 
Platt? He must be smarter than he looks! * . . The Sena- 
tor did not make a very prepossessing appearance as he 
hunched over his seat in the Chamber. He looked more like 
a New England college professor or a retired clergyman 
than he did like a seasoned political warrior. Quigg, his 
faithful lieutenant, said that Platt was so little magnetic 
that he performed listlessly even the act of shaking hands." 6 

These physical and temperamental contrasts give the key 
to their differences in political technique. Croker, while 
shrewd and resourceful, preferred direct action and posi- 
tively enjoyed a knock-down fight} Platt revelled in sly 
manoeuvres, and always preached " harmony." Croker in- 
sisted on full details; Platt demanded only results. The 
methods employed did not interest him. That was why 
Platt was called the " Easy Boss." 

In action, Platt was a model of smooth decorum. Always 


tactful and conciliatory, he habitually spoke in a low, soft 
tone, rarely raising his voice. Platt could never have 
mastered the rough democracy of Tammany Hall, while 
Croker's sledge-hammer methods would not have been tol- 
erated by the touchy farmers and ultra-respectable middle- 
class folk who were the backbone of Republican power. 
Both men were thus eminently fitted for their respective 

Such were the champions of their respective parties who, 
in 1890, clashed for the first time. Thenceforth, for a full 
decade, the manoeuvres of these two great Bosses give the 
clue to their epoch. Like master-players, Platt and Croker 
sat facing one another across the political chess-board, giving 
alternate check and counter-check. 

Platt's entry into New York City politics was the first 
serious Republican intervention since the Civil War. For a 
whole generation, the local Republican organization had 
been left pretty much to its own devices. The reasons are 
not far to seek. So small and discredited was the metro- 
politan Q.O.T. that only powerful outside assistance would 
yield worth-while results. 

The up-State Republicans were unable to give such aid. 
During most of this period their State organization was 
split into rival factions, popularly known as " Stalwarts " 
and " Half -Breeds." The split started as a mere squabble 
over patronage, but it degenerated into a bitter feud which 
dragged on interminably and rendered united action impos- 

Indeed, the entire up-State political situation was about 
as complicated as the one in New York City. Both parties 
were patchworks of jarring local organizations. Only in 
the eighties did a process of consolidation set in which pres- 


ently resulted in two efficient State machines: one dominated 
by Platt, the other by David B. Hill. 

The Republican machine was much the more powerful, 
resting as it did upon the mass of the rural population and 
the more prosperous townsfolk. The strength of the up- 
State Democracy lay in the industrial towns and cities 5 for 
here, as in the metropolis, the poorer classes, especially the 
immigrants, tended to be Democrats. The up-State Democ- 
racy thus appeared as a series of isolated strongholds, set 
against a solid Republican background. And this, in turn, 
enabled the Republicans to control the Legislature even 
under Democratic Governors 5 because the legislative seats, 
apportioned according to territory as well as population, 
favored the rural districts somewhat out of their numerical 

Because of this, even in " Democratic years," Platt was 
able to strike shrewd blows from Albany against Croker and 
Tammany, despite furious protests from the Gubernatorial 
Chair. Platt's well-drilled legislative majority could be 
depended on to obey orders and stolidly re-pass his meas- 
ures over a Democratic Governor's veto. 

It was in the late eighties that Platt, sure of his well- 
oiled machine and his docile Legislature, was ready for ag- 
gressive action. In this expansive mood there came to him 
emissaries from his political brethren to the southward, ask- 
ing aid and promising much in return. So alluring were 
their tales that Platt decided to investigate. Let us try to 
visualize the conditions which met Platt's shrewd gaze as he 
reconnoitred the metropolis. 

Manhattan Republicanism had been from the first a sickly 
growth. Through the seventies and eighties it was in a 
hopeless minority, rarely polling more than twenty-five per 


cent of the vote. Furthermore, the local Republican or- 
ganization was parasitic in a twofold sense: it depended on 
the Albany machine for its share of State and Federal patron- 
age, and upon the Manhattan Democracy for local favors. 

This last may seem a degrading occupation, yet it was 
a recognized form of "practical politics." In that epoch, 
professional politicians were always open to a "trade"} 
and we will often find Platt and Croker, like Chinese gen- 
erals, sandwiching a " deal " between two battles. So the 
local organizations always maintained certain " gentleman's 
agreements." For instance, there was a tacit understanding 
that Republican election officials should be " taken care of " 
by City jobs, even in the staunchest Democratic wards where 
the Republican organization was a mere shell the Re- 
publicans repaying the favor by minor State or Federal ap- 
pointments at their disposal. 

So far as mere politics went, there was little difference 
between the Republican and Democratic machines. Theo- 
dore Roosevelt bears striking testimony to this when he 
gossips about the political conditions of his youth. 

" Almost immediately after leaving Harvard in 1880," 
he writes, " I began to take an interest in politics. . . It was 
thus that I became a member of the 2ist District Republican 
Association of the City of New York. The men I knew 
best were the men in the clubs of social pretension and the 
men of cultivated taste and easy life. Although the Twenty- 
first was known as one of the c silk-stocking ' districts of 
town, when I began to make inquiries as to the whereabouts 
of the local Republican organization and the means of join- 
ing it, my friends laughed at me and told me that politics 
were *low'j that the organizations were not controlled by 
c gentlemen '; that I would find them run by saloon-keepers, 


horse-car conductors, and the like; moreover, they assured 
me that the men I met would be rough and brutal and un- 
pleasant to deal with. 

" I answered that if this were true it merely meant that 
the people I knew did not belong to the governing class, and 
that the other people did and that I intended to be one 
of the governing class." 7 

When Roosevelt goes on to describe his District Associa- 
tion we find it much like a Tammany District club-house 
minus most the latter's social and charitable features. He 
describes it as " a large, barn-like room over a saloon. Its 
furniture was of the canonical kind: dingy benches, spittoons, 
a dais at one end with a table and chair and a stout pitcher 
for iced water, and on the walls pictures of General Grant 
and of Levi P. Morton, to whose generosity we owed the 
room. We had regular meetings once or twice a month, and 
between times the place was treated, at least on certain nights, 
as a kind of club. . . 

" I soon got on good terms with the ordinary c heelers ' 
and even with some of the minor leaders. The big leader 
was c Jake y Hess, who treated me with rather distant affa- 
bility." 8 

Young Roosevelt found his new friends very useful; for 
when he first ran for the Assembly he failed dismally to 
"get next to the voters." So he left this business to his 
friends the ward heelers who did a good job. 

Roosevelt makes the interesting statement that two of 
the minor leaders in his district were Irishmen converts 
from Tammany Hall, who had been badly treated by some 
Tammany leader and had, in revenge, transferred them- 
selves and their gangs to the Republican party. This was 
by no means exceptional; the two Irish leaders and their 


retinues whom Roosevelt mentions could probably have been 
duplicated in other districts in town. 

Such was the situation of the Republican Party in New 
York City when Platt surveyed his proposed field of action. 
However, Platt's investigations unearthed one cheering fact: 
the Manhattan Q.O.T. was certainly growing in numbers. 
A decade before, it had polled a beggarly 20% or 25% of 
the total vote cast in the city. By 1890, it was polling 
an average of 35%. 

The basic reason for this increase seems to be that the 
population of Manhattan had been changing in a pro- 
Republican sense. From the forties into the seventies, the 
chief contingent of immigrant settlers in the metropolis was 
Irish, who were ready-made Democrats almost to a man. 
But about 1880, the Germans outstripped the Irish 5 and 
rather more than half of the Teutons became Republicans. 
Also, there was the large contingent of Scandinavians, who 
showed strong Republican tendencies. Lastly, the vanguard 
of the great Jewish influx had arrived; and the Jews, then 
as always, were decidedly independent in their party affili- 
ations. The upshot was that the tremendous Democratic 
lead in the metropolis was being slowly but surely cut down. 

True, the Manhattan Q.O.T. had a very long way to go 
before it could hope to become a majority. Yet the more 
sanguine party leaders were coming to believe that if enough 
time, effort, and cash were put into the task, New York 
City might be converted. 

Whether the wily Platt really expected anything so de- 
lightful is uncertain. What he apparently did hope for was 
so pronounced a gain in Republican strength as would force 
Tammany to hand over a large share of the local patronage. 
And that, in itself, was a prize worth striving after 5 for the 


richness of Tammany's preserves must have made the little 
up-Stater's mouth fairly water. 

Platt calculated that he already held a high trump card: 
legislative control. That control was theoretically limitless 5 
for the metropolis, like every other city or town, was legally 
a mere creature of the State. From the State it had received 
its corporate existence j and what the State had given, it 
could take away. So far as the letter of the law went, the 
Legislature could alter New York's charter at any moment, 
or even abolish it altogether, putting the metropolis under 
direct State control by a Board, Commission, or otherwise. 9 
The chief hindrance to such drastic action was the " Home 
Rule" sentiment in New York City, which would pre- 
sumably be so aroused by the loss of self-government that 
Republicans and Democrats would join in a political up- 
rising that might wreck the Republican Party. 

Platt was too wise seriously to meditate any such extreme 
measure. It was just a useful bugaboo, to be discreetly 
trotted out on suitable occasions. But if Platt could so master 
the local Republican organization that it became as sub- 
servient to him as his up-State organization; if, in other 
words, he could weld the whole Q.O.T. of the Empire State 
into one big Platt machine, his bargaining power would be 
vastly strengthened, and Tammany, in return for favors at 
Albany, would have to surrender an ever-larger slice of 
the metropolitan spoils. 

A working model of the transfer method already existed. 
This was the " bi-partisan " idea, which had been applied 
to the Metropolitan Police Board for many years. It might 
be extended to other departments as well. 

Having reconnoitred the hostile terrain and found it to 
his liking, Platt proceeded busily with his scheme of getting 


the metropolis under his control. Platt's "invasion" of 
New York City was a characteristic performance; it was about 
as spectacular as the entry of a mouse into a cheese. 

But the results were soon discernible to the professional 
eye. The local Republican organization felt in its every part 
the pressure of the " Easy Boss's " delicate yet efficient hand. 
Platt lieutenants soon commanded everywhere, and Platt 
himself established metropolitan headquarters at the Fifth 
Avenue Hotel, where he conferred with his staff-officers and 
tactfully issued his orders. 

Platt's " council-chamber " is worth noting. At the end 
of the broad hotel corridor were two large sofas. Here, the 
" Easy Boss " held his conclaves. It was all so decorous that 
the conferences were jocularly dubbed "Platt's Sunday 
School Class." Yet the outcome of these conferences was so 
certain to be just what Platt wanted that the spot itself was 
called " The Amen Corner." Contrast the Amen Corner 
with Croker's quarters down at the Wigwam! There we 
get a graphic glimpse of the abysmal difference between the 
rival Bosses and their ways. 

While Platt's Sunday School Class was holding its ultra- 
respectable sessions, "The Boys" were doing their un- 
respectable organization work and no questions asked by 
the " Easy Boss," so long as they got results. 

The machine must run without a hitch. And the best way 
to avert trouble was to get caucuses 10 of the " right " kind. 
Platt was a skilled manipulator, and had done considerable 
caucus "packing'' up-State 5 but in the metropolis, this fine 
art reached full bloom. In 1896, an investigation of al- 
leged election frauds reported that " the Republican enroll- 
ment in New York City was from 15% to 45% bogus." 
And Dr. Parkhurst remarked: " There is a brazen insolence 


and a colossal dare-deviltry about these enrollment frauds 
that is thrilling." u 

It was in the autumn of 1 8 89 that Platt felt himself strong 
enough to begin putting the screws on the Tiger. Ac- 
cordingly, Platt quietly but insistently let Mayor Grant 
know that certain city appointments to deserving Republi- 
cans would be gratefully acknowledged. Grant, of course, 
promptly referred the matter to his Boss. The rival chief- 
tains were face to face! 

Boss Croker, however, did not at once throw down the 
gauntlet by a direct refusal. Whether he wished to find 
out what Platt had up his sleeve, or whether the ill-health 
from which he then suffered indisposed him to instant battle, 
certain it is that Croker temporized and put Platt off with 
vague assurances. 

Yet before long it became evident that Croker had no in- 
tentions of "coming through." That decided Platt. So 
Croker would not " trade," eh? Well, he would have to 
be shown that Platt was in a position to make his wishes 
respected. A few low-voiced orders to Albany, and the 
Legislature appointed a Committee, headed by State Senator 
J. Sloat Fassett, one of Platt's trusted lieutenants, to examine 
into certain alleged abuses committed by the Tammany 
municipal administration in general, and by Mayor Hugh J. 
Grant in particular. 

Thus began the first of the series of legislative investi- 
gations into Tammany's misdeeds which were to have such 
momentous consequences. It was also the first round in the 
great duel between Platt and Croker, destined to last more 
than ten years until both Bosses were undermined by the 
rising tide of political change and rudely buffeted by the 
angry waves of reform. 



IN JANUARY 1890, the State Senate appointed its committee 
of inquiry, colloquially known as the Fassett Investigation. 
Platt's blow was well timed: it came early in a Mayoralty 
election year, and it caught the Tammany Boss when he was 
physically below par. 

For some time, Richard Croker had not been a well man. 
During the past six years he had been working at top speed. 
He had wrought political marvels; but the continuous strain 
had taken its toll. Those interminable hours in his stuffy 
office at the Wigwam were not good for one who had trained 
down hard as a welterweight boxer, and who had from child- 
hood been accustomed to open air and plenty of vigorous 

Croker rarely touched liquor ; but he was a hearty eater 
and a heavy smoker, consuming many strong cigars per day. 
Several years of sedentary life, together with intense nervous 
activity, had begun to entail unpleasant consequences. 
Croker was much over-weight; his bulging muscles were 
larded with fat; he had developed stomach trouble. The 
wind-up of the campaign the previous autumn had left him 
so exhausted that he had taken a two-months' vacation in the 
South; but it had produced no lasting benefit. 

Croker was thus in poor shape to undergo a gruelling or- 
deal on the witness-stand where Platt plainly intended 



to put him. He knew that Platt's committee would get him 
there. Croker had played the game of politics to the limit 5 
and he had enemies who would not hesitate to stress the worst 
side of certain episodes that would not read well on the front 
pages of the newspapers. In short: Croker felt that he was 
due for a hectic time, whatever the ultimate political reaction 
might be. 

This harassing prospect probably decided him to do what 
his doctors had long been urging take a long rest under 
medical care. And since he knew that he would soon be 
politically under fire, he resolved to gain full liberty of 
action by two decisive moves: quitting official life, and going 
beyond the reach of subpoenas by travel abroad. 

That was drastic action. It meant throwing up the post 
of City Chamberlain, with its $25,000 a year salary. It also 
would give his enemies the chance to claim that he was run- 
ning away. Yet, early in February, he took the plunge, 
publicly announced both decisions, and appointed Thomas 
F. Gilroy to run things at the Wigwam. 

This announcement came like a thunderbolt. Next day, 
the press reported: " Richard Croker's resignation caused 
great excitement in political circles. Croker will sail for 
Europe soon. He is a very sick man. Various names are 
publicly given by his physicians for his disease, the most 
common being dyspepsia. Mr. Croker says that frequently 
a pain seizes him in his left side about the region of the heart 
as if he were compressed by hoops of steel, and a faintness 
and dizziness attack him. Last Saturday he fainted away 
in his office. 

"Speaking of his condition, Mr. Croker recently said: 
c I am almost discouraged. I don't know what is the matter 
with me, but I am far from being a well man.' " * 


The following morning, a front-page news story read: " Is 
Richard Croker going to resign the leadership of Tammany 
Hall? That he desires to do so was privately stated last 
evening by one of his trusted friends. 55 2 

Amid this jumble of fact and rumor, the Boss took his 
departure, heading straight for Wiesbaden, Germany, to 
undergo a thorough " cure." 

Meanwhile, the Fassett Investigation was getting under 
way, and presently had Mayor Grant on the stand to explain 
alleged irregularities while he was Sheriff of New York, 
some years before. Grant's reputation had hitherto been so 
clean that these charges made a great sensation. The metro- 
politan press at once despatched special correspondents post- 
haste to Wiesbaden 5 and one of them, after interviewing the 
exiled Boss, reported: 

" It is strange to see the Tammany chief idling the hours 
away, strolling about the Kursaal. One thinks of Mr. Croker 
as c whooping it up for Tammany ' rather than sipping warm 
water at the ^fnnkhalle. 

"But Richard Croker is here, all the same, diligently 
searching after his lost health. c I am not here for fun, 5 said 
Mr. Croker to me today. c A man does not quit New York 
as I did, throwing down a $25,000 a year office, unless he has 
to do it T. T>. Q., too, if he doesn't want to lose his health 
forever. The fact is, I was breaking down so rapidly that 
I had to drop everything in a hurry. The doctors here tell 
me that my trouble is pleuritic, not one of the heart, and 
that before long they will have it under control; but after 
my treatment here they insist that I must go to the mountains 
for three or four months, if the cure is to be permanent. If 
I do as they say, they promise to make me a well man and 
send me home in September. I shall be glad indeed to be 


back again. New York is good enough for me. I wish I 
was there now.' " 

The interviewer having broached the subject of the 
charges against Grant, with the query whether Tammany 
would be hurt by this scandal at the next election, Croker 
answered quickly: " In no way, unless Tammany harbors 
and protects men after they have been -proven guilty. If 
Tammany does that, it may as well put up the shutters, with 
a neat little card outside like this: ' Death in the family. 
Gone to meet the County Democracy! ' " 3 

So far, so good. Then came the big bombshell. Patrick 
H. McCann, Mrs. Croker's brother-in-law, went on the 
stand and proceeded to tell things about the Boss and the 
Mayor which needed a lot of explaining. 

McCann began by asserting that, some six years before, 
Croker had shown him a satchel containing $ 1 80,000 in bills, 
which had been contributed by some big Tammany men to 
bribe members of the Board of Aldermen to confirm Grant's 
appointment as Commissioner of Public Works 5 albeit, the 
money had eventually been returned to the donors when 
Mayor Edson declined to appoint Grant to the office. 

Furthermore, McCann testified that, a little later on, 
when Grant had been made Sheriff through Croker's in- 
fluence, he presented Croker's six-year-old daughter, Flossie, 
with some strangely munificent gifts in the shape of enve- 
lopes, each containing $5000 in currency the total amount 
of the series being estimated as somewhere between $10,000 
and $25,000. 

The sensation caused by McCann's testimony may be 
imagined! Croker promptly cabled: " McCann's charge is 
false. Would not believe him under oath and is a black- 
mailer." When burly " Pat " McCann was shown the cable- 


gram, his big-jowled face grew crimson with wrath, and he 
growled to the reporters that he was ready to fight his 
brother-in-law any sort of way. 

The fact is that McCann's testimony was the climax of a 
very pretty family row. McCann and Croker had once been 
good friends, and while Croker was still John Kelly's lieu- 
tenant he had prevailed upon his Boss to get McCann the 
lease of a municipal-owned restaurant in Central Park. 
Later, however, the pair quarrelled 5 and McCann asserted 
that Croker (now Boss) told the Park Commissioners not to 
renew McCann's lease which was, in fact, given to an- 
other. Deprived of a very good thing, McCann had ever 
since been waiting to get even. 

The obvious bad blood between Croker and his brother- 
in-law tempered the public's reaction to McCann's charges} 
especially the charge of attempted Aldermanic bribery 
the more serious of the two. To the Herald's foreign cor- 
respondent, Croker said in an interview at Wiesbaden: 

" Imagine me going around town showing McCann a bag 
full of money and telling him it was boodle. Rubbish ! I'm 
not such a fool as to go hunting Aldermen with a brass band 
like that" 

The Boss was still in bad physical shape, for the inter- 
viewer stated: " Croker is a pretty sick man 5 does not look 
nearly as well as when I saw him a month ago. He has had 
a severe haemorrhage and seems to have lost a great deal of 
the strength which he then appeared to be gaining. Today 
he was in bed, and seeing how I was fatiguing him, I cut 
short the interview." 4 

It should be noted that, while Croker indignantly denied 
McCann's charge of attempted Aldermanic bribery, he was 
discreetly silent about his friend Grant's gifts to little Flos- 


sie. There, McCann had evidently hit home} for Mayor 
Grant admitted on the witness-stand that he had made two 
such gifts, of $5000 each, naively explaining that he had 
made them because he was Flossie's godfather and wanted 
to do something handsome for the child. But Grant was 
also forced to admit that he had never made any similar 
presents, before or since} and later on, Croker had to confess 
that he did not put the money in a trust fund, but apparently 
used it for his own purposes. 

Grant's " generosity " was, therefore, obviously a thinly 
disguised payment of a political debt, and the episode had an 
unsavory tang to it, even in those free-and-easy days. 

On the other hand, McCann's lurid tale about the satchel 
full of "boodle" was never corroborated by other testi- 
mony} and in face of flat denials by both Grant and Croker, 
the general verdict at the time was: " Not proven." 

One thing was certain: Croker was in a tight fix. Senator 
Fassett's keen-edged drill had clearly " struck oil." The 
Republicans were exultant} the public was whetting its ap- 
petite for fresh disclosures; the reformers were in full cry 
after Tammany} the Braves were showing signs of dismay. 
Yet here Croker was, more than 3000 miles away from New 
York City, flat on his back, and under doctor's orders to stay 
there till he was better! 

With his hand thus forced, Croker determined to compro- 
mise between health and politics. He would suspend his 
"cure"} return to face his accusers as soon as he could 
travel} and, that job once done and his political fences 
mended, go back to Europe for the final stages toward physi- 
cal recovery. 

So, at the end of May, Croker cabled that he would be 
home within a fortnight. It was high time. The air was 


full of the wildest rumors, and a sinister whisper was going 
round that the Boss was dying. All this loose talk was 
squelched when Croker landed on schedule and, after a brief 
rest, appeared before the Fassett Investigation. 

The dramatic scene which ensued is vividly described in a 
press account of the time: 

"The court-room was packed like Tammany Hall on 
election night, and it was a Tammany crowd. It was a meet- 
ing of the Braves, who made no secret of their sympathies, 
but applauded and whoop-laed like gallery gods at every 
point which looked favorable to their side. 

" McCann was there, of course. Joseph Choate, Repub- 
lican, yet retained by the accused, sat beside Mrs. Croker 
and listened with sardonic face to the raps that fell now and 
then on Tammany, but sent many a hot shot flying into the 
ranks of the legal enemy, Ivins. Beside him sat Bourke 
Cockran, belligerent and mouthy, as the legal representative 
of Mayor Grant. 

" It needed no physician to tell that Richard Croker was 
sick. His eye, his face, his voice, all told the story. The 
color in his usually swarthy face shaded up from the black 
beard, from the copper of his recently-acquired sea-tan to an 
ashy gray. The eyes were dull and sodden. The spiritless 
voice was half inaudible. Yet he sat patiently on the rack 
through five hours of weary questioning and gave no sign 
of pain. 

" His answers were non-committal on all points save the 
things denied in the testimony of McCann, yet seemingly 
frank so far as he told anything. . . When Mr. Croker's 
name was called, he rose without a change of color or token 
of embarrassment. His wife, however, flushed painfully, 
and her fan fluttered for a moment. . . The way Mr. 


Croker jumped on brother-in-law McCann's testimony was 
like the pounding of a pile-driver, and McCann's face got 
blue all the way up to the crown of his bald head." 5 

When it was over, nobody " had the goods on " Croker, 
in the legal sense. No criminal act could be proved. So the 
Boss was in no danger of sharing Tweed's fate. 

From the ranks of Tammany arose a great sigh of relief, 
mingled with murmurs of sympathy and protestations of 
loyalty. When Croker made his first appearance at the 
Wigwam a few nights later, he received a tremendous ova- 
tion. The Braves yelled and stamped for minutes on end. 
The Boss was obviously much moved. 6 

Soon after this gratifying ovation, the Boss sailed away 
for his promised sojourn in the Swiss mountains. With the 
dreaded ordeal past, and an easy mind for his political future, 
Croker could concentrate on his immediate quest the full 
recovery of his health. 



IN THE thick o one of his fiercest battles, Richard Croker 
snapped out an angry retort which instantly took its place 
in the history o politics, and which will probably be remem- 
bered long after all his other sayings have been forgotten. 

This chance remark was uttered when the Tammany Boss 
was being grilled on the witness-stand during the Mazet 
Investigation of 18995 the third and last of those searching 
inquiries into New York City politics engineered by Platt. 
Frank Moss, head counsel for the Mazet Committee, had 
been pressing Croker regarding his hidden sources of income. 
At length, at the height of a sharp cross-examination, Mr. 
Moss asked with veiled sarcasm: " Then you are working for 
your own pocket, are you not? " To which the Boss instantly 
snapped back: " All the time the same as you! " 1 

The grim directness of that retort 5 its naive frankness and 
obvious truth electrified not merely New York but the en- 
tire nation. From Coast to Coast, Croker's words were 
caught up and pondered. For, as a lightning-flash illu- 
mines a dark landscape, so the Tammany Boss's laconic phrase 
lit up a whole code of conduct hitherto obscure. Well- 
meaning men everywhere were forced to face a political 
philosophy which, before this, they had tended to ignore. 
And the kernel of that philosophy can be stated in two words: 
Honest Qrajt. 



The phrase is not Croker's. It was coined by another 
Tammany celebrity, by that genial sage of the Wigwam, 
George Washington Plunkitt. In his famous book (become 
a political classic) the Tammany philosopher thus states his 
case with his usual mordant humor: 

" Everybody is talkin' these days about Tammany growin' 
rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin' the distinction 
between honest graft and dishonest graft. There's all the 
difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our 
men have grown rich on politics. I have myself. I've made 
a big fortune out of the game, and Pm gettin' richer every 
day. But I've not gone in for dishonest graft (blackmailin' 
saloon-keepers, disorderly people, et cetera). 

" There's an honest graft, and I'm an example of how it 
works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin': c I seen 
my opportunities and I took 'em.' 

" Just let me explain by examples. My party's in power 
in the city, see, and it's goin' to undertake a lot of public 
improvements. Well, I'm tipped off, say, that they're goin' 
to lay out a new park at a certain place. 

" I see my opportunity and I take it. I buy up all the 
land in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that 
makes its plan public, and there's a rush to get my land, 
which nobody cared partic'lar for before. Ain't it perfectly 
honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my in- 
vestment and foresight? Of course it is. Well, that's honest 
graft. It's just like lookin' ahead in Wall Street or in the 
coffee or cotton market. It's honest graft, and I'm lookin' 
for it every day in the year." 2 

There, in brief, we have the political ethics of a man who, 
according to his lights, seems to have been well-meaning and 
sincere. In those days, the test of conduct was, not what 


was righ^ but what could get by the law. Sharp practices 
were usually condoned as smart and clever. So long as a 
man kept clear of the courts, his reputation was reasonably 

A contemporary put the matter aptly when he stated: 
" Between c Thou shalt not steal ' and ' Honesty is the best 
policy ' lies the history of unindicted men." 3 And Theodore 
Roosevelt sums up the ethics of the epoch in his statement 
that: "The creed of mere materialism was rampant in both 
American politics and American business, and many, many 
strong men, in accordance with the prevailing commercial 
and political morality, did things for which they deserve 
blame and condemnation." 4 

This explains the sinister intimacy between politics and 
a big business " which was so sensationally exposed by the 
"muck-raking" journalists of the succeeding decade. Yet, 
given the circumstances, that intimacy was virtually inevi- 
table. Big corporations were willing to pay untold millions 
for public service franchises and other special privileges $ 
while politicians had it in their power to harass those same 
corporations almost out of existence by blackmailing " strike " 
bills and municipal ordinances, unless properly "taken 
care of." 

A favorite slogan of Croker's political foes was the sar- 
donic query: Where TDid He Qet It? Without trying to 
discover where Croker got all of "It," we may at least 
evaluate the main sources of a fortune which, from small 
beginnings, rapidly swelled to a size estimated at several 
millions of dollars upon his final retirement from politics 
in the year 1902. 

We have already noted Croker's early ups-and-downs: his 
first prosperity, culminating in his Coronership with its 


$15,000 a year perquisites; and his sudden descent to abject 
poverty, following the McKenna episode in 1874. Until 
Kelly's retirement a decade later, Croker was in moderate 
circumstances, living in a simple home in Harlem. 

From the moment of his accession to power, Croker began 
to make real money; as witness Hugh J. Grant's payment 
of at least $10,000 in return for his appointment as Sheriff 
doubtless only one among many cash settlements of 
political debts. The whole field of patronage must have 
been a veritable gold mine. 

Then there was Croker's Chairmanship of the Finance 
Committee of Tammany Hall; a Committee which almost 
never met, and which kept no books. With the vast revenue 
of the organization passing, unchecked, through his hands, 
it was doubtless expected that a certain portion would stick 
to his fingers. 

Croker always denied that he ever touched what Plunkitt 
calls "dishonest graft." The tribute from illicit liquor- 
selling, gambling, vice, and other tainted sources, may have 
been primarily the perquisites of lesser grades in the or- 
ganization; and presumably not much of it reached head- 
quarters at least, in its original form. But the damning 
fact remains that, whether much or little " dishonest graft " 
went into Croker's pocket, a lot of it went into the pockets of 
other Tammany men. The Lexow and Mazet Investiga- 
tions proved to the hilt that in those days Tammany was 
reaping " dishonest graft " of the vilest kinds. 

One major source of revenue was contracting. Here, 
however, the graft was very " honest." No more Tweed 
scandals! But let a well-informed contemporary tell us 
how the trick was done: 

" Generally, all is open and abovebo^rd. The contractor 


agrees to do a certain amount of work for which he is to be 
paid a fixed sum. The work is done and the money is paid. 
Investigated, and everything is straight. The work has 
been performed according to contract and no more money 
has been paid for it than the stipulated price. Strictly honest 
business, you see! Who can complain? 

a But now suppose you put in a bid for one of these con- 
tracts. Do you get the job? Not much. At least, not until 
you enter into a business arrangement with some city official 
who is sent to you for that purpose, and you agree to put up 
a fixed share of the receipts (not the profits) for the benefit 
of somebody behind the scenes. Of course, if you did not 
have to pay this tribute, you could do the work at less price 
and the city would be the gainer. But it cannot be shown 
that anybody has stolen any money out of the city treasury. 
Who has stolen anything? The records are all straight." 5 

Another highly lucrative source of revenue was Croker's 
real-estate connection. Soon after he became Boss of Tam- 
many Hall, he entered into a partnership with one Peter 
F. Meyer, and the firm of Meyer and Croker at once became 
the most prosperous auctioneering concern in New York 
City, having practically a monopoly of judicial sales of real 
estate. The reasons for this, and for Croker's large profits 
therefrom, came out in the Mazet Investigation of 1899. 
Incidentally, it was at this point in the proceedings that 
Croker made the avowal about his "own pocket" which 
caused such a sensation. 
The official record reads: 

Moss: Let us see if my deductions are correct. The 
judges elected by Tammany Hall appoint referees, who, in 
line with their party obligations, appoint auctioneers 


Mr. C r k er: That referee is appointed by the judge, and 

he appoints whatever auctioneer he pleases. 

(Mr. (Moss: But if that referee is a good Tammany man, he 

should appoint an auctioneer who is in line with the party, 

should he not, as part of the patronage? 

Mr. C^ker: It all depends on the kind of a Tammany man 

he is. 

(Mr. (Moss: If he appoints your firm (Meyer & Croker) he 

does a good party act, does he not? 

Mr. Croker: Yes, sir. 

Mr. {Moss: Now, I ask you why he does a good party act 

when he appoints your firm? 

Mr. Croker: Well, all things being equal, he has a right to 

do it. He is a Democrat himself, and he ought to appoint 


Mr. Moss: And he ought to do that thing which puts into 

your pocket money, because you are a Democrat, too? 

Mr. Croker: Yes, sir. 

(Mr. (Moss: So we have it, then, that you, participating in 

the selection of judges before election, participate in the 

emolument that comes away down at the end of their judicial 

proceeding; namely, judicial sales? 

(Mr. roker: Yes, sir. 

(Mr. (Moss: And it goes into your pocket? 

(Mr. Croker: I get that is, a part of my profit. . . 

(Mr. (Moss: Then you are working for your own pocket, 

are you not? 

(Mr. Croker: All the time; the same as you. 

Mr. (Moss: It is not, then, a matter of wide statesmanship 

and patriotism altogether, but it is wide statesmanship, 

patriotism, and personal gain mixed up, is it not? 

(Mr. Croker: It is " To the Party belongs the Spoils." I tell 


you that now right out, so that you can make it all right here. 
We win, and expect everyone to stand by us. 6 

A LITTLE later in the proceedings, Croker gave the com- 
mittee this interesting information: 

r. C ro & er: We will show you the books. There is Peter 
Meyer's there, and I want to say to you now that my half in 
that business has amounted to anywhere from $25,000 to 
$30,000 for the last seven years, right along. 7 

So MUCH for the Boss's profits through real estate. But he 
had other perquisites, even more lucrative. Almost every 
corporation which expected to do much business with the 
City found it convenient to make Richard Croker the holder 
of a sizeable block of its stock; and the aggregate value of 
these holdings, over a long period of years, must have been 

The Mazet Committee tried hard to get Croker to talk on 
this subject, but he stubbornly refused, declaring that all such 
matters were his " private business," with which the public 
had no legitimate concern. 

It is amusing to note how Croker made a shrewd counter- 
thrust at his accusers by drawing an interesting parallel be- 
tween his corporation activities and those of his enemy, Platt. 
When asked to reveal his business enterprises, he protested: 
" All this talk is very well, but why don't you go and examine 
the man that created you, and sent you here? Go and in- 
vestigate the office of Tracy, Boardman & Platt. There is 
more corruption in that office than any other office in this 
town. Go and investigate the man you get your retainer 
from, Mr. Moss 5 the man that made you possible. Platt is 
the man I mean." 


Leaving the pot to call the kettle black, let us now turn 
to a further source of Croker's wealth, the cumulative im- 
portance of which is often overlooked. We refer to the 
Boss's relations with Wall Street. 

The moving spirit in this matter seems to have been his 
friend Edward Murphy, of Troy. Murphy, who was born 
rich and who knew the financial ropes, pointed out to Croker 
his golden opportunities to make a fortune through judicious 

The times were ripe; for New York City was then enter- 
ing on an intensive stage in its development, and the great 
public service corporations were expanding, consolidating, 
and acquiring new franchises of enormous potential value. 
To cite only one instance: at this time, William C. Whitney 
and his associates were getting their grip upon the metropoli- 
tan street railways. 

" In suggesting to Croker that he should seize the oppor- 
tunity to improve his financial condition, Senator Murphy's 
words ran something like this: c Richard, you have a hun- 
dred times more power than Whitney. All Whitney has put 
into this traction proposition is $450, and that was to pay the 
fees for filing the papers.' 

" If Senator Murphy had told Croker he could jump to 
the moon, Croker could not have been more astonished. 
Soon after this, Croker showed unmistakable signs of pros- 
perity. . . He got well acquainted with leaders of Wall 
Street, such as C. P. Huntington and James R. Keene." 8 

The tale of one notable financial " killing " will suffice to 
show how Croker enriched himself through his Wall Street 
associations. In 1892, a franchise was granted for the con- 
struction of a street railway through the outlying sections o 
the Bronx. This region was still so undeveloped that the 
new line was jocularly nicknamed: ^he Huckleberry Rail- 


Yet its shrewd promoters realized its ultimate pos- 
sibilities, and within a few years its stock (originally selling 
very low) was extremely valuable. We do not know the 
exact size o Croker >s holdings, but in 1899 it was reliably 
estimated to have run close to 1000 shares, for which he had 
paid little or nothing. 

And, over and above all specific transactions, was the fact 
that Croker could always be sure of investing his money ac- 
cording to "inside information" and with the very best 
financial advice. His Wall Street associates simply could not 
let him lose 5 he was altogether too valuable to them. 

Being a big winner, the Boss likewise showed himself a 
good spender. Shortly after Mayor Grant's re-election in 
1890, Croker disposed of his modest house in Harlem and 
moved to a fine residence at number 5' East 79th Street. 
This was in one of the smartest sections of town, just off 
Fifth Avenue. 

The price of the Boss's new home was understood to have 
been $80,0005 and the total cost, including the elaborate 
furnishings, to have been nearly $200,000. The entire ex- 
istence of the Croker household was on a munificent scale, 
with a retinue of servants and a private Pullman car. 

These domestic expenditures certainly suggest marked 
prosperity. Yet even they were not so significant as Croker's 
outlays on his life-long hobby race-horses. In his lean 
years we have seen Dick Croker betting his last dollar at 
Saratoga. Now the great Boss spared no expense in gratify- 
ing his passion for " the sport of kings." 

As early as 1891, Croker had purchased a stock-farm at 
Richfield Springs, together with a string of thoroughbreds, 
including TtobUns, a horse whose price was $20,000. Early 
in 1893, Croker bought, for $250,000, a half-interest in 









Belle Meade Farm, one of the best-known stud-farms in the 
United States, and spent an extra $100,000 adding to his 
string, which now included Longstreet, a celebrated race- 
horse of his day. So successfully did Croker race that season 
that he became almost as much talked about on the turf as he 
was in politics. 

All this time, be it remembered, Croker held no salaried 
office, and had no regular business. When he resigned his 
$25,000 a year Chamberlain's job early in 1890, he was 
through with official life and never again got on the munici- 
pal pay-roll. 

As Big John Kennedy remarked: " 'Tis a great game, is 
politics y and can be made to pay like a bank! " 



The Qay Nineties is an apt phrase. It vividly depicts an 
epoch. Down the lengthening vista of the vanished years 
wafts its spicy flavor, evoking a certain naughty curiosity. 

The Gay Nineties were the climax of previous decades j the 
rollicking close of America's pioneering age. The cream of 
a virgin continent was being skimmed 5 boundless natural 
resources were being wastefully coined into dollars 5 and the 
fortunate possessors spent lavishly and garishly. " Easy 
come and easy go! " was the slogan. From Nevada mining- 
camps to State of Maine lumber-towns, the spirit was essen- 
tially the same. 

Yet where could a man have so gorgeous a fling as in 
" Little Old New York "? So the metropolis became the 
nation's capital of pleasure. Here, new-rich millionaires 
from Pittsburgh and 'Frisco, from Michigan and the Texas 
Panhandle, foregathered to preen themselves as "big 
spenders." Thither flocked ambitious " country sports," 
" tired" business men, and miscellaneous joy-seekers: all 
after a " good time." And the average New Yorker was 
himself not precisely austere. 

The demand for life's lighter pleasures was thus almost 
insatiable. And that demand, the metropolis did its best to 
supply. The spirit of the times was not censorious 5 Vol- 
stead and Mann Acts were then unthinkable. And what 
restraining laws did exist could be suitably evaded. 



New York's world-wide reputation for gayety dates from 
the close of the Civil War. The let-down which always 
follows a great war, together with speculative finance and 
currency inflation, spelled "easy money" and easy 

The results in New York were soon evident. Theatres, 
restaurants, dance-halls, gambling- joints, and disorderly 
houses sprang up like mushrooms on every hand. The 
" Red Light District " (formerly confined almost entirely 
to the Five Points and the Bowery) spread rapidly north 
and west. Some of the " resorts " were mansions, splendidly 
furnished and conducted with much style and ceremony. 
cc On certain days of the month no gentleman was admitted 
unless he wore evening dress and carried a bouquet of 
flowers." a 

Thus New York entered the " Flash Age "3 so called be- 
cause of the diamond studs (the bigger, the better) which 
every man who aspired to be " toney " wore on his ample 
shirt-front. It was a time of ostentation, blatant and un- 
ashamed. As one new-rich magnate, when criticized for 
vulgar display, blandly retorted: "Them as has 'em, 
wears 'em! " 

The literary style of the " Flash Age " was as flam- 
boyant as its manners. This is amusingly shown by the fol- 
lowing description of metropolitan high society: 

" All New York is in the midst of gaiety and dissipation. 
Splendid carriages, with liveried coachmen and sleek horses, 
dash up and down the avenues, depositing their perfumed 
inmates before brilliantly-lighted, high-stooped, brown- 
stone fronts, whence the sound of merry voices and volup- 
tuous music comes wooingly out, through frequently opened 
doors, into the chilly night. . . 


" Dancing and feasting, flirting and gossip bind the hours 
with fragrant chaplets, and the duties and purposes of life 
sink into soft oblivion. The night reels, like a drunken Bac- 
chant, away; and the stars grow pale as the revelers depart, 
with bounding blood and dazed senses, to the embroidered 
chambers that hold sweet sleep in silken chains.' 3 2 

New York's fashionable thoroughfares reflected the spirit 
of the times. Broadway glittered with marble. Fifth Ave- 
nue, as far as 59th Street, was an almost unbroken expanse 
of brown-stone palaces, stretching oppressively, block after 
block and mile upon mile. 

Even then, New York had its "Greenwich Village"} 
though in those days the "Bohemian" quarter centred 
around Bleecker Street, which had been the citadel of so- 
ciety's elect only a generation before. 

In the " Flash Age," Bleecker Street was the abode of art- 
ists, actresses, kept women, and other unconventional per- 
sons; and the studios of the artistic colony were famous for 
their wild parties. 

The centre of sporting life was, at the moment, around 
Union Square. But it was soon destined to drift north ward 5 ' 
first to Madison Square, and thence up Broadway and Sixth 

This was the district known as The Tenderloin, The 
nickname arose out of a chance remark uttered by Police 
Captain Alexander S. Williams. After long service in quiet 
residential districts, where opportunities for police graft 
were scarce, the doughty Captain was promoted to the pre- 
cinct covering the notorious vice and gambling area. Shortly 
thereafter, a friend saw Captain Williams breezing down 
Broadway, and, noting his jaunty air, asked him the reason. 
"Well," smiled Williams, "I've been transferred. I've 








had nothin' but chuck steak for a long time, and now I'm 
goin' to get a little of the tenderloin! " 

The Flash Age, which had begun with the Civil War, 
ended suddenly and painfully in the great financial panic of 
1873. Thereafter, New York was quieter for a few years; 
albeit, the cause was not so much better morals as less cash. 

Indeed, even during its financial hang-over, the metropolis 
apparently did itself fairly well. Certainly, the seeker after 
pleasure would have found no dearth of entertainment if he 
took an evening stroll up Sixth Avenue, from 23rd to 4Oth 
Streets; for this was now the sporting centre aptly termed 
Satan's (Circus. 

The ruin wrought by the panic of '73 was soon effaced by 
the flowing tide of national prosperity. All through the 
eighties, metropolitan life went forward with ever-accelerat- 
ing tempo. To portray New York in the eighties would be 
virtually to repeat our description of the Flash Age. New 
York of the eighties was a little less vulgar, a little less stri- 
dent; but it was basically the same in spirit, and there was 
even more money to spend. 

So we emerge into the Qay Nineties: the climax of 
high living and low thinking; of liquor and women; of 
graft and gambling; of peerless " sports " and colossal 
"spenders" like "Lucky" Baldwin and " Betcha-a-mil- 
lion " Gates. . 

Perhaps the most astounding " exhibit " of this extrava- 
gant, pleasure-loving epoch was the Saratoga Club, Richard 
Canfield's gambling-joint He luxe y at number 5 East 44th 
Street. There, the master-gambler, whom his recent biog- 
rapher calls The Host to the 3{inetieSy received his select 
millionaire clientele. No man who could not sign his check 
for at least five figures was apt to get inside the massive 


bronze doors of this Palace of Chance, where fortunes were 
nightly lost and won., and whence John W. Gates, the arch- 
plunger, walked forth in the wee small hours, richer at a 
single sitting by a cool $100,000. 

Canfield's resort was familiarly known as " next to Del V 
from its situation close to Delmonico's, the smartest restau- 
rant of the town. The Saratoga Club was then considered a 
marvel of interior decorating. The very office had matched 
panels of white mahogany inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and 
the entire mansion was filled with rare antiques and objets 
d'art. . t 

" True to tradition, Canfield served a magnificent supper 
at eleven o'clock. There were tables for those who cared to 
sit down 5 for the rest, servants brought the food to the gam- 
ing tables. Delicious cold cuts, salads, and desserts were pre- 
pared on the premises. If a patron wanted something spe- 
cial, it was brought from Delmonico's, with no charge to the 
player except the tip of a white or a red chip for the servant. 
Costly cigars were dispensed free. . . The wine-cellar con- 
tained the finest vintages, as well as the more plebeian 
drinks." 3 

Canfield's was the most magnificent of hundreds of 
gambling-joints then operating in the city, all of them run- 
ning in flat defiance of the law* Furthermore, the multitude 
of policy-shops, brothels, assignation-houses, and other 
forms of vice, together with illegal liquor-selling, constituted 
an immense volume of illegal activity. 

These countless illegalities were condemned, not merely 
by moralists in New York City but also by the bulk of up- 
State public opinion, which was getting more and more 
censorious of metropolitan ways. 

We thus witness an ever-growing antagonism between two 


sharply contrasted attitudes toward life, which was to have 
momentous political consequences. The free-and-easy, 
pleasure-loving metropolitan majority was presently to be 
coerced by a resident minority backed by powerful up-State 
allies. The city majority promptly rebelled against this 
coercion and endeavored to evade or defy restrictive legis- 

The upshot was an emotional clash which became the para- 
mount issue in local politics, an issue to which voters tended 
to subordinate all other matters. 

In short, it was a small-scale rehearsal of the great " Wet 
and Dry " drama which agitates the nation today. 

The first battle between the antagonistic forces came in 
the mid-nineties. It was precipitated by the vice disclosures 
of the Fassett and Lexow Investigations. Those investiga- 
tions had been started by Platt for partisan purposes. But 
their revelations so dramatized conditions that both the 
moral and the political reformers were roused to unprece- 
dented activity and joined forces in a common onslaught 
against the evils they respectively abhorred. 

The champion of the moralists was the Reverend Charles 
H. Parkhurst, Pastor of the Madison Square Presbyterian 
Church, and probably the most eloquent preacher of his day. 
His sermons attracted widespread attention and had pro- 
found influence. A born orator, inspired by quenchless zeal, 
and tireless in action, Dr. Parkhurst was the ideal leader of 
a moral crusade. 

Dr. Parkhurst fired the opening gun of the campaign 
against vice by his famous sermon preached on Sunday, 
February 14, 1892, whereof the text was: Te are the salt of 
the earth. It was a blistering arraignment of vice conditions 
in the metropolis, and an equally scathing arraignment of the 


Tammany administration which tolerated those conditions 
and profited by them. This sermon made a great sensation. 
Next day. New York was in a furor. 

The Doctor was indefatigable. Aided by influential sup- 
porters, he and his agents investigated the ills he had so hotly 
denounced. As soon as he had gathered enough new data, 
'Dr. Parkhurst would preach another sermon, describing 
realistically to his crowded congregation the horrors he had 
seen; and next morning the newspapers would broadcast it 
as a front-page story. It was amazingly effective propa- 

Dr. Parkhurst's guide through New York's "under- 
world " was a certain Charles W. Gardner. This man was 
not only a competent detective but also possessed a lively 
sense of humor. Gardner wrote an account of his vice tour 
with the minister which was published in pamphlet form 
under the intriguing title: "The "Doctor and the T)evil: 
or ^Midnight ^Adventures of "Doctor Tarkhurst? This little 
volume, written in a racy style, is as amusing as it is in- 

Gardner had promised Dr. Parkhurst to " show him the 
town " for six dollars a day and expenses. On the appointed 
evening, the detective took the Doctor and a young as- 
sistant named Erving to his room on West 1 8th Street, and 
made them up. Gardner had quite a job disguising Dr. 
Parkhurst's ultra-clerical personality, but at length he had 
everything to his liking, and the trio sallied forth to " see 
life." That night they saw plenty and on subsequent 
nights, as well. 

The tour was not free from trials on both sides. Dr. 
Parkhurst's first ordeal came when, to avoid suspicion in a 
very tough joint, he had to take a stiff drink of Cherry Hill 


whiskey. " He acted," relates Gardner, " as if he had swal- 
lowed a whole political parade torchlights and all." 

On the other hand, the detective had his troubles. Not 
only was he worried lest his tenderfoot clients betray them- 
selves 5 he was certainly made to earn his money. For, as 
Gardner complains: "the Doctor was a very hard man to 
satisfy. c Show me something worse! * was his constant cry. 
He really went at his slumming as if his heart was in the 

Perhaps the most startling event in this memorable ex- 
cursion was the notorious " leap-frog " episode. The de- 
tective arranged a " dance of nature " in a low-grade brothel 
run by one Hattie Adams. Five naked girls danced the 
can-can to the strains of a tin-pan piano played by a broken- 
down musician known as *The Professor. 

Says Gardner: " As I could not dance, and the Doctor, of 
course, would not if he could, young Erving was forced to 
do the dancing for us visitors. . . Then came the celebrated 
c leap-frog ' episode, in which I was the frog and the others 
jumped over me. 

"The Doctor sat in a corner with an unmoved face 
through it all, watching us and slowly sipping a glass of beer. 
Hattie Adams was quite anxious to find out who Dr. Park- 
hurst was. I told her he was c from the West/ and was c a 
gay boy.' Then Hattie tried to pull Dr. Parkhurst's whisk- 
ers, but the Doctor straightened up with such an air of dignity 
that she did not attempt any further familiarities." 

Dr. Parkhurst was not the only vice investigator. Another 
earnest seeker after the naked truth was Joel S. Harris, a 
special agent for the Mazet Committee j and his story, as 
told on the witness-stand, gives us in vivid fashion the flavor 
of the " Red-Light District " during this period: 


"On the 6th day of July I was walking through 26th 
Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. It was late at 
night. As I was passing number 116 West 26th Street, 
on the stoop there were three or four colored girls, and one 
of them solicited me. 

" In fact, all three did, but one got up and grabbed hold 
of me while I was against the railing, and said: c Come up 

" I said: * No, I don't care about going.' 

" She says: c Come on! Come on! ' and she put her arms 
around me, and at the same time she went in my pocket and 
took a dollar which I had there, with some other money 
make-believe money, counterfeit, stage-money* 

" This girl took the money out of my pocket (it was in 
my vest pocket) and ran up stairs, saying: ' Well, there's 
nothing in you. Good-bye, Honey.' 

" So I felt and saw that I was robbed, and I went to look 
after an officer. I found an officer on the corner of 25th 
Street and Sixth Avenue. I said: c Officer, I have got the 

" He knew what I meant, all right. He said: c Where? 
Down at that wench-house? ' 

a I said: * I guess that is right. Will you come around? * 
and he says: c I can't. It's not on my beat,' or something 
like that. 

" I says: c John^ blow your whistle,' and he did, and three 
or four policemen came running up and asked what was the 
matter. I told them I had been robbed. . . So we got to 
the house. I began knocking on the doors and trying them, 
and an officer says: c Here, don't do that. You'll have your 
brains blown out' . . 

" Then a door opened and a big fellow came out. He 


says: c Are you the guy that lost something? y I said: c I lost 
some money. 3 He said: c Was it a dollar bill with a lot of 
stage-money? ' I said: c That's me.' He says: c I'll get it 
for you/ and walked inside. 

"When he goes in for the money, the officer says to me: 
c You are a cheap son-of-a-bitch making that holler over a 
dollar. I wouldn't have budged.' He said: ' You're so 
light you'd float, to make that holler over a dollar.' . . 
They were all kidding me, and calling me all kinds of names 
and everything else. . . 

" Then the man came back and handed out the money and 
showed it to the officers, and went to show by that how cheap 
I was. He said: c I wouldn't have had it happen for ten dol- 
lars.' He said: c Here, a nice-dressed fellow like you making 
all this fuss over a dollar! ' " 5 

Mr. Harris' experience was not unique. Any well-dressed 
man who walked through " The District " was almost sure 
to be urgently solicited. A highly piquant instance of this 
happened to " Big Bill " Devery when he was still a Precinct 

Strolling along one evening, off duty and in civilian attire, 
Devery was loudly hailed by some disreputable females 
from the windows of a low resort which he was passing. 

Whether it was his morals or his taste in women that 
he deemed impugned, certain it is that "Big Bill" was 
very angry. Bright and early next morning, the proprie- 
tor of the offending bagnio was summoned to the station- 

And the luckless proprietor testified before the Lexow 
Committee that as soon as he entered the Captain's presence 
" and he saw me, he says: c You son-of-a-bitch, that's you, is 
it? ' c Well,' he, says, ' if them women cows of yours call me 


again, I'll take you by the neck and throw you out of the 
house! ' " 

The sequel to this painful interview was that, a few days 
later, Devery's wardman called on the proprietor and or- 
dered him to pay ten dollars per month more " protection 
money " for the gross insult to his Captain. 6 

Such was "York" of the Gay Nineties: wide-open and 
unashamed. Its pagan life might run the whole gamut from 
the superbly gorgeous to the drably sordid. Yet, in that 
composite picture, Canfield's gambling-palace "next to 
DePs," Hattie Adams' frowsy joint, and the 26th Street 
" wench-house," all had their place. 



THE EARLY nineties witnessed the rise of a deep-seated, con- 
structive movement for municipal reform. Unfortunately, 
this new leaven stirred to action a motley host of zealots who, 
with their manifold programs, did much to discredit in the 
public mind the very cause they had so eagerly espoused. 
It was they who brought the word Rejormer into such popu- 
lar odium that level-headed persons seeking civic betterment 
soon came to avoid the term and purposely re-labelled them- 

This distinction between Reform and " Reformers " must 
be carefully kept in mind if we are to understand the in- 
wardness of " non-partisan " politics in New York City. 

By the late eighties, thinking men had begun to realize 
that our municipal life was in a bad way. Accordingly, many 
of the country's best minds grappled with the problem. 
During the next few years a number of authoritative works 
on municipal government appeared, 1 and the stream of 
thought and discussion swelled rapidly, both in volume and 
in effect. 

This movement for civic betterment was intimately con- 
nected with the reforming trend in national and State politics 
which had begun a decade earlier, and which had already 
produced results such as the Federal Civil Service Reform 
Act of 1883. It was only natural that the field of municipal 



affairs should have been neglected for the more obvious prob- 
lems of State and nation. 

Yet many of those problems were common to all phases 
of our political life. This was eminently true of civil service 
reform (the "Merit System "), as opposed to the partisan 
" Spoils System." It was equally true of reform in election 
and party machinery, such as the secret (" Australian ") bal- 
lot, direct primaries, and public scrutiny of campaign funds. 

Straight-thinking reformers realized from the first the 
magnitude of their task and the obstacles they would en- 
counter. They therefore tended to proceed realistically, ac- 
cording to scientific methods. Facts were gathered j assem- 
bled data were analyzed, and theories were frankly revised 
if these did not work out in practice. It is to the patient 
labor and clear vision of these long-headed, common-sense 
builders (re-formers, in the literal sense) that the political 
progress of the last few decades is primarily due. For, with 
all its imperfections, the political life of today 5 national, 
State, and especially municipal, is vastly cleaner and better 
than it was a generation ago. 

Our political progress is the fruit of strenuous effort. The 
pioneers of the reform movement had a double task: they 
had to awaken an indifferent or complacent public to the 
magnitude of deep-rooted evils 5 and they had to educate the 
public to a knowledge of practical remedies. 

Orthodox politicians of every stripe were their enemies 
from the start. Instantly scenting danger to themselves, the 
old-line " regulars " of both political armies declared war to 
the knife against these innovators, and covered them with 
tirades of mingled abuse and ridicule. Just as the Mug- 
wumps were damned as traitors to " regularity," so advo- 
cates of the Merit System and the Australian Ballot were 


persistently villifiecL Hard-shelled spoilsmen jeeringly 
dubbed the Merit System: "Snivel Service Reform." 

Richard Croker was naturally a staunch believer in the 
traditional slogan: a To the victors belong the spoils! " And 
he never hesitated to say so frankly. His opinion of the 
Merit System was vigorously expressed during one of his 
verbal tilts with Mr. Moss during the Mazet Investigation: 

(Mr. (Moss: That is the theory of the city government right ' 
through ; that the organization in control should have all 
the offices in every department? 
(Mr. (Broker: Yes, sir. 

(Mr. Moss: Judicial, executive, administrative and every- 

(Mr. Croker: Yes, sir 5 that is what I believe the people voted 
our ticket for. 

(Mr. (Moss: And that is why you have the emblem of the 
tiger, who has a large mouth, which is constantly open? 
(Mr. Broker: Yes, sir. That was so when we put you off the 
Police Board. You saw that in print, didn't you? 2 

LATER on in the proceedings, Croker stated: " I think the 
city would be better off without civil service. . . I think it 
is an obstruction to city government." 3 

In all these utterances there is a scornful note not wholly 
accounted for by the facts as thus far stated. The reason be- 
ing that these " practical " politicians were thinking of their 
opponents in terms, not of the new movement's level-headed 
thinkers, but of the emotional zealots who did most of the 
talking and made nearly all the noise. 

The psychology of this sort of " reformer " is in many 
ways intensely irritating, not only to politicians but to the 


average run of mankind. There is a cocksureness, a self- 
righteousness, a lack of human sympathy and understanding 
about him which tends to arouse mingled anger and con- 
tempt. In short: the " reformer " himself has probably been 
the greatest single handicap to reform. 

Popular distrust was intensified by the fact that many 
upper-class reformers obviously distrusted the people, their 
attitude toward government being substantially that of Alex- 
ander Hamilton and his Federalist supporters. That atti- 
tude might have worked when our country was virtually an 
aristocratic republic 5 but applied to conditions of universal 
suffrage and " government by the people," its mere suspicion 
in the popular consciousness spelled something akin to po- 
litical suicide. 

The typical cc reformer's " lamentable ignorance of human 
nature is strikingly revealed by his desire to coerce the public, 
by legislative acts or municipal ordinances, to matters which 
run counter to popular usage and therefore rouse the public 
to angry defiance. That, in turn, nullifies the special legis- 
lation, besides bringing all law into discredit. 

" Nothing is easier to make than an unworkable law; and 
nothing is harder than to execute it. The art of govern- 
ment is largely the art of adapting laws to the foibles of 
mankind. It is the art of managing large bodies of can- 
tankerous, obstinate, fickle, apathetic, and emotional men 
and women. Frame the laws as skilfully as you may 
and you have taken only the first step. Applying the laws, 
interpreting them, enforcing them, and developing a popu- 
lar respect for them these are also steps that count. And 
all of them require the cooperation of men drawn from the 
ranks of the people." 4 

The " reformer's " gross lack of human understanding is 


primarily due to the fact that he is usually obsessed by some 
fixed idea which he devoutly believes will regenerate man- 
kind and solve society's problems, if only his idea be fully 
and resolutely applied. It may be any one of a dozen politi- 
cal nostrums advocated by rival reformist sects 5 yet in each 
case the psychology is the same. 

This emotional obsession blinds the reformist zealot to 
the realities of the situation. Whence his deplorable tend- 
ency toward intolerance. "The mental process which the 
average reformer uses is simple enough. He begins by 
taking it for granted that he is right. Then it must follow, 
as the night the day, that if you differ from him you are 
wrong. And if you are wrong there can be no compromise 
with you, for truth cannot enter into any compromise with 
error. The reformer, when he runs true to type, is not open 
to argument concerning the validity of his convictions. He 
will not barter away his c principles. 3 He will not arbitrate 
an issue of righteousness. As well ask him to dicker on the 
Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments." 5 

The moral reformers in the New York of the nineties 
were mostly of this uncompromising type. And Dr. Park- 
hurst, their spokesman, certainly knew how to fire their emo- 
tional zeal. When the Doctor began preaching against the 
wickedness of New York City, the Protestant, church-going 
middle class fell into line behind him like a crusading host. 

Dr. Parkhurst was a good fighter. His first attack was 
a volley of hot shot fired straight at his foes. In his famous 
sermon of February, 1892, the Doctor proclaimed: "There 
is not a form under which the devil disguises himself that 
so perplexes us in our efforts, or so bewilders us in the de- 
vising of our schemes, as the polluted harpies who, under the 
pretense of governing this city, are feeding day and night 


on its quivering vitals. They are a lying, perjured, rum- 
soaked, libidinous lot. . . Every effort that is made to im- 
prove character in this city, every effort to make men re- 
spectable, honest, temperate, and sexually clean is a direct 
blow between the eyes of the Mayor and his whole gang of 
drunken and lecherous subordinates." 

That certainly was plain speaking. And among the 
crowded congregation which listened in fascinated silence 
sat Boss Platt still a member of the Madison Square Pres- 
byterian Church, since the fiery Doctor had not yet de- 
nounced him from the pulpit as worse than five Crokers. 
" One can imagine Platt, rather shrivelled and somewhat 
dry, sitting up in his pew and exulting at the statements 
which the servant of the Lord was making in favor of the 
Republican Party. Dr. Parkhurst's intentions were of the 
best, but Mr. Platt could calculate, as he carefully held his 
silk hat between his knees, the number of votes that sermon 
would produce." 6 

Platt, however, was marking time. Shrewd political 
analysts like himself were already secretly aware that 1892 
was a " Democratic year "$ and the November elections were 
to prove a Democratic " landslide " which put Grover Cleve- 
land in the White House, elected Democrats as Governor of 
New York State and Mayor of the metropolis, and even 
temporarily wrested the State Legislature from Republican 

But Platt knew how to wait. He would bide his time. 
And meanwhile, Dr. Parkhurst thundered tirelessly on. 

The very next year saw a turn of the tide; 1893 witnessed 
a world-wide financial panic, and the worst business depres- 
sion since that of twenty years before. Unemployment and 
destitution rose to alarming proportions. The whole nation 


was filled with discontent. And, as usual, the party in 
power had to shoulder the blame. Although 1893 was 
politically an " off-year,' 5 wherever men had a chance to 
vote, they tended to vote Republican. In New York State 
the Democrats just managed to squeeze in their candidate 
for Governor, but the Legislature became Republican once 

Platt was now ready to cash in politically on Dr. Park- 
hurst's propaganda. So, early in 1894, the Legislature 
passed a bill appointing a Committee headed by Senator 
Clarence Lexow to investigate the charges of political and 
moral corruption which had been brought by various reform 

Then followed a political squabble which disclosed the 
latent clash between State and metropolis. Governor Ros- 
well P. Flower, a prominent New York Democrat, vetoed 
the bill in terms which scathingly denounced the measure 
as a partisan manoeuvre and vigorously upheld the city's 
right to " home rule." 

For a while it looked as though Platt's game was 
blocked, because the Republican Boss did not have enough 
legislative votes to re-pass the appropriation bill for the 
Committee's expenses over Governor Flower's veto. But at 
this juncture a group of wealthy New Yorkers guaranteed 
the funds 5 whereupon the Legislature passed a Resolution 
appointing a Committee to serve without pay. The Lexow 
Investigation was thus assured. 

This unexpected outcome filled New York's Tammany 
rulers with secret consternation. At first they had not taken 
the Parkhurst crusade seriously. When the noted preacher 
had uttered his declaration of war, Mayor Grant, issued 
a statement challenging Parkhurst to prove his assertions; 


and The Tammany Times , Croker's organ, said derisively: 
" A c loose J idea in a man's head is a serious thing. Every 
once in a while an idea probably forms in Dr. Parkhurst's 
head, and then it gets loose and rattles around at such a 
great rate that it drives the poor man crazy. It keeps rattling 
around until the next idea forms and drops off, and that is 
the reason he seems to be craxy all the while." 

The Democratic tidal-wave of 1892 and Gilroy's election 
as the new Tammany Mayor made Parkhurst's denunciations 
seem, for the moment, of small account. 

However, the Doctor and his colleagues persisted. Bit 
by bit, they backed up their vice charges by very specific 
evidence. Meanwhile, the political reformers had been un- 
earthing election frauds of startling magnitude. And now 
the Fassett Committee was to sift all these charges! 

To Richard Croker the trend of events looked ominous. 
His unerring intuition warned him that trouble was ahead 5 
just as the falling glass tells the mariner of the approach 
of a storm. 

Croker knew all the signs he had lived through the 
political hurricane which had wrecked "The House that 
Tweed Built." The current unrest due to hard times, and 
the nation-wide . Republican swing in the recent elections 
had put him on his guard. The aggressive mustering of his 
varied enemies was further evidence of impending danger. 
And his uncanny political sixth-sense whispered that, after 
so many years of unbroken Tammany rule, the people were 
ripe for a change if only out of idle curiosity. The popu- 
lace of a great city, fickle and emotional, gets that way every 
once in a while. 

Watching and weighing the situation, the Boss saw matters 
go from bad to worse. The revelations before the Lexow 


Committee were startling, and they evoked a formidable 
popular response. The political barometer was falling faster 
and faster. It was to be a hurricane! 

Silent and motionless, as was his wont at crucial junc- 
tures, the great Boss sat and thought the matter through: 

Tammany would be beaten in November by a coalition 
pledged to reform. Whoever led Tammany on that melan- 
choly occasion would be discredited. And Croker had no 
mind to "take the rap." -Therefore he would presently 
resign the titular headship of Tammany Hall. 

But his resignation would have a string to it. The new 
" leader " should be his deputy, so circumstanced that he 
could not grasp the substance of power. Behind the scenes, 
the real Boss would await his hour. 

And that hour would surely strike. For hurricanes come 
seldom and cannot long endure. Imagine "York" of 
the Gay Nineties tolerating more than one dose of "re- 

Meanwhile, he was rich ; he loved his race-horses; he 
needed rest and change of scene. It would all work out 
in the long run. 

So the Boss promptly dropped out of the political lime- 
light, and presently rumors began to circulate that he was 
again in poor health and might resign. Early in May, 
Croker went to Washington, where he had a confidential 
talk with his friend Senator Murphy; and on his return to 
New York, he formally tendered his resignation as Chair- 
man of the Finance Committee of Tammany Hall. A month 
later, he slipped away for Europe so quietly that no one 
outside the inner circle knew, until he was gone. 

The hostile press descanted knowingly upon Croker's 
"flight"; his foes jeeringly prophesied that he had 


gone for good $ even the Braves grumbled a bit, feel- 
ing a let down " by their Big Chief on the eve of a dubious 

Croker did not seem to care. His colors flaunted on the 
British turf. His revenues were ample. His was a very 
voluntary exile. 

But back in New York, the glass fell ever lower, and the 
hurricane winds began to blow. All Tammany's foes sunk 
their respective differences and staged a big " get-together " 
meeting in Cooper Union, where a Committee of Seventy 
was formed to direct the campaign. 

On that Committee every anti-Tammany element was 
represented. There were political reform organizations like 
the City Club and the Citizen's Union, moral reform or- 
ganizations such as Dr. Parkhurst's Society for the Pre- 
vention of Crime, and anti-Tammany Democrats of various 
shades. The " Fusion " coalition soon found a suitable can- 
didate for Mayor in William L. Strong, a wealthy merchant 
of unblemished reputation and a Republican of independent 

With a well-balanced ticket, the Fusionists sought the 
endorsement of the local Republican machine, and were told 
to " see Platt." This they did and found that gentleman 
in a very mixed state of mind. 

Platt's wily soul was troubled by the trend of events. 
This Fusion movement, pledged to a non-partisan reform 
administration, filled him with secret dread. Tammany 
could be beaten in November, right enough; but where 
would he and his Republican " regulars " come in? These 
Fusionists denounced the Spoils System and prated loudly 
about Civil Service Reform. But, if there were to be no 
spoils, both the old machines might soon, as Plunkitt put 


it, be near the " bustin' point." A "deal " with Tammany 
would be better than that! 

Platt was sorely tempted. But he did not quite dare, be- 
cause of two special factors: (i) the Mayoralty candidate ; 
(2) public opinion. 

By nominating a Republican (of sorts) the Fusion leaders 
had cleverly spiked Platt's guns. Of course, they had not 
fooled Platt. In his eyes, an independent Republican was 
no better than a Mugwump. Nevertheless, Mr. Strong was 
a registered Republican, and if Platt were to " knife " him, 
the blow to the principle of party regularity might entail 
worse consequences than a dearth of spoils. Such fine-spun 
tactics would be quite above the heads of the partisan rank- 

As for the second factor: Platt, like Croker, realized that 
the metropolitan public was in a hyper-excited mood. To 
stand in the path of this emotional tornado would be too 
risky. Better let the public blow off steam and get its fill 
of reform, reasoned Platt. Then things would become 
" normal " again. 

Platt sadly realized that his Lexow Investigation had 
started something beyond his control. What he had hoped 
to unearth were some good old-fashioned election frauds 
strictly Democratic, of course. 

But the investigation had gone much further} it had 
ripped the lid off the whole metropolitan vice situation. 
And " Platt was not particularly interested in the revelation 
of sin, for he had his private experiences with it, and the 
revelation of some of them by his political opponents, who 
had climbed up to a window in the Delavan House in Albany 
to make their investigations, had caused him some embar- 
rassment." 7 


Furthermore, the Lexow testimony had proved that many 
illegal practices in the metropolis were " protected " by the 
police. And that did not please Platt either} because the 
Police Department of New York City was run by a bi- 
partisan Board of Commissioners, and the Republican mem- 
ber (McClave) was obviously smirched by the abundant 
graft that was going around. 

So Platt was determined to stand on the side-lines and 
let things take their course. 

The Fusion campaign was a genuine crusade. A novel 
enthusiasm stirred men's blood and fired their imaginations. 
The Protestant ministers marshalled their flocks and led 
them, en masse y to fight for the good cause. Some Catholic 
priests did likewise} among them. Father Ducey, an earnest 
social worker. And Dr. Parkhurst swept through the city 
like the trumpet of wrath. 

Thousands of chronic stay-at-home voters rushed to the 
polls. Throughout the upper and middle classes, party lines 
melted in the heat of emotional contagion, and the tenement 
districts were affected as well. Toward the close of the 
campaign the trend grew so clear that it became the fashion 
to deride Tammany, and those persons who always like to 
be on the winning side proceeded to climb on the Fusion 

Yet, though the very stars in their courses seemed arrayed 
against it, the Wigwam did its best. Like the seasoned 
veterans they were, the Tammany battalions went into battle 
with well-drilled precision, and fought doggedly to the last. 
Tammany's stock candidate, Hugh J. Grant, was nominated 
and " ran on his record." Much money was raised and was 
freely sent. All that the machine could do was done. 

But the outcome was a foregone conclusion. When the 


battle was over and the votes counted, William L. Strong 
had been elected by over 45,000 majority, and practically 
the entire Fusion ticket had won. A real non-partisan, re- 
form administration had been installed at City Hall the 
first that New York had ever known, 

Tammany was out of power j off the pay-roll 5 beaten and 
discredited. The Reformers had swept the town!. 




MAYOR STRONG gave New York a model administration. 
Capable department heads were at once appointed, who 
staffed their offices with men of ability and intelligence. 
Honesty and, Sfficiency was the watchword5 and those ideals 
were lived up to. 

Even the Augean Stables of the Police Department were 
taken in hand by Theodore Roosevelt, who tackled the job 
with all the ardor of his strenuous youth. Backed by com- 
petent colleagues, Roosevelt reorganized the Department. 
Veterans like " Tenderloin " Williams were retired a for the 
good of the service," while younger sinners were retired 
from "juicy" precincts to quiet ones where opportunities 
for graft were few. 

To be sure, graft was by no means extirpated. The New 
York Police Department has an inner life of its own. It 
has traditions which stubbornly resist the transient efforts 
of Commissioners who come and go, while a The Force " 
clumps stolidly on its routine way. But so long as *?.R. was 
in command, graft kept coyly under cover ; and gambling, 
vice, and " blind tigers " bowed their diminished heads. 

The most striking improvement was in the Street Clean- 
ing Department. From time immemorial it had offered 
the readiest field for graft, of both the " honest " and 



dishonest varieties. Contracts had nearly always been 
notoriously padded, while the Department payroll sup- 
ported, in semi-genteel leisure, thousands of deserving party 
" workers." Into this restful scene broke Colonel George 
E. Waring, Jr. Thenceforth, not only were contracts writ- 
ten cc straight "j the street-cleaners themselves were put into 
white uniforms, and were thereby made so conspicuous that 
every passer-by could tell at a glance whether one of " War- 
ing's White- Wings " was soldiering on the job or loafing 
in a corner-saloon. The results were startling. For the 
first time in its history, New York's streets were kept 

The whole municipal program was conducted along simi- 
lar model lines. New schools were built, new parks and 
playgrounds laid out, and many long-needed improvements 
of various sorts were planned and executed. 

Such was the splendid record of the Strong administra- 
tion. And yet, before it was a year old, it was manifestly 
unpopular, while at the next Mayoralty election it was 
emphatically repudiated amid the exultant cheers of the 

Why did this happen? In the bitterness of defeat, many 
disillusioned reformers asserted that the bulk of New York's 
citizenry deliberately preferred bad, wasteful government. 

But this is a very inadequate explanation. As a matter 
of fact, the average New Yorker, poor or well-to-do, en- 
joyed having clean streets, tidy parks, good schools and 
an efficient health department. Furthermore, the vast ma- 
jority of the poor had no direct personal interest in munici- 
pal graft, since they could expect no " cut " on padded con- 
tracts and, obviously there were not enough city jobs to go 


No, it was neither its honesty nor its efficiency which 
hurt the Strong administration with the metropolitan public. 
Other things, less prominent on the record, proved its po- 
litical undoing. 

From the embittered outbursts of Reform's disheartened 
friends, let us turn to the cynical verdict of its professional 

" These reform movements," remarked an East Side poli- 
tician, " are like queen hornets. They sting you once, and 
then they die." In similar vein, George W. Plunkitt said 
condescendingly: u College professors and philosophers who 
go up in a balloon to think are always discussin' the question 
why reform administrations never succeed themselves. The 
reason is plain to anybody who has learned the A.B.C. of 
politics. . . Reformers are mornin' glories look lovely 
in the mornin* and wither up in a short time, while the regu- 
lar machines go on flourishin' forever like fine old oaks. . . 
The fact is, a reformer can't last in politics. He can make 
a show for a while 5 but, like a rocket, he always comes 

There is a modicum of truth in these verdicts. Certain 
it is that, throughout New York's political history, no re- 
form administration has ever yet succeeded itself. Yet even 
this rather begs the question. It states the facts, but it does 
not really explain. 

One factor, however, is clear: the reformers play into the 
enemy's hands by internal dissensions, personal jealousies, 
and lack of organization. To a certain degree, this is in- 
evitable. A u Fusion " movement is a coalition of diverse 
elements, each with its special objectives, and led by highly 
individualistic personalities. Such a loose coalition cannot 
compare in disciplined unity with a well-drilled machine. 


Then again, the Strong administration was disliked by the 
Republicans almost as much as it was by Tammany Hall. 
Platt's worst fears were realized when Mayor Strong held 
firmly to his campaign pledge of a non-partisan policy. 
Deeply chagrined at the Mayor's disregard of party needs, 
the Republican Boss wrote indignantly: " Colonel Waring 
was put in charge of the Street Cleaning Department, and 
no organization leader could get a place from him." * De- 
termined to stop this sort of thing at all costs, Platt was now 
ready for a " deal " with Tammany, and his manoeuvres 
during the campaign of 1897 played their part in the Tiger's 
return to power. 

Sydney Brooks, one of the shrewdest foreign observers 
who has ever written on our political life, says: 

" The reformers set their standard high and by that 
standard they are judged. The promised reforms are long 
a-coming, and when they do come are not always seen to 
work quite smoothly. Up goes an instantaneous howl of 
impatience and disappointment from the reforming press, 
and of derision from Tammany. 

"Moreover, no reform administration has yet mastered 
the secret (which Tammany so perfectly understands) of 
* team-play.' The heads of the various departments work 
far too independently of each other 5 they are too much like 
a company of star actors 5 they quarrel with one another and 
criticize each other's conduct with a publicity and freedom 
quite destructive of any real unity. 

"All this the public sees. It is amusing and piquant 
enough for a time 5 but amusement ends by passing into bore- 
dom, and finally into disgust. There comes at last a period 
when to the ordinary citizen Tammany seems preferable 
to the discord and din of this jangling jealousy. Tammany 


has at least the precious and healing gift of working in 
silence." 2 

This analysis may explain machine success at the polls. 
But it does not account for the popular revolt which turned 
the reformers out of office only three years after the same 
public had installed them amid wild enthusiasm. Obviously, 
powerful emotional factors must have come into play, to 
have caused such a dramatic revulsion of public opinion. 
And those factors seem to fall under two main heads: (i) 
popular dislike or distrust of the reformers themselves j 
(2) popular resentment at some of the reform policies. 

Sydney Brooks explains the first point when he writes: 
" The reformers were unable to conquer that social distrust 
of c gentlemen' which one encounters so often and so un- 
expectedly in American, and especially in city politics. The 
average New Yorker dislikes to be governed by men of re- 
finement, independent means, superior position. At a time 
of strong moral excitement he may vote for them; but he 
quickly wearies of their aloofness, exaggerates their detach- 
ment from the * plain people,' and comes in the end to re- 
sent their pretense and activity as a sort of affront to democ- 
racy." 3 

Yet more was involved than dislike of " gentlemen " and 
"highbrows." There was also a widespread popular dis- 
trust of the ethics and motives of the wealthy bankers and 
business men who were so prominent in the Fusion move- 
ment. And on that score, no one has hit the nail on the head 
better than "Mr. Dooley," the literary creation of the 
celebrated Chicago humorist, Finley Peter Dunne. 

Mr. Dooley undoubtedly voiced the latent feeling of the 
metropolitan masses when he said, shortly after the Lexow 


"This here wave iv rayform, Jawn, mind ye, that's 
sweepin' over th' counthry, mind ye, now, Jawn, is raisin' 
th' diwle, I see be the pa-apers. IVe seen waves iv ray- 
form befure now, Jawn. Whin th' people iv this counthry 
gets wurruked up, there's no stoppin' thim. They'll not 
dhraw breath until ivery man that tuk a dollar iv a bribe is 
sint down th' r-road. Thim that takes two dollars goes on 
th' comity iv the wave iv rayform. . ." 

" c Jawn,' said Mr. Dooley. 

" c Yes,' responded Mr. McKenna. 

" c Niver steal a dure-mat,' said Mr. Dooley. c lf ye 
do, ye'll be invistigated, hanged, an' maybe rayformed. 
Steal a bank, me boy, steal a bank.' " 4 

Yet neither Mr. Brooks nor Mr. Dooley have given us 
the full explanation. Such popular dislike and distrust, 
while widespread and deep-seated, were generalized emo- 
tions. They could not, of themselves, have precipitated the 
popular revulsion of 1897. 

The chief cause of that revulsion was that the people bit- 
terly resented " strict enforcement " of laws against Sunday 
liquor-selling and gambling which was the policy of the 
Strong administration. 

True, the reform officials merely applied existing statutes. 
But those statutes had been passed by up-State legislators, 
and had never before been consistently enforced in the 
metropolis. The metropolitan masses had never approved 
of this legislation, which ran counter to their ideas and 
habits. So, when the reformers began to put " teeth " into 
the laws, the New York public tossed its head like a mettle- 
some horse which first feels the curb, took the bit in its 
teeth, ran away, and tossed the driver into the ditch. 

Today, thanks to our nation-wide Prohibition controversy, 


we are learning about matters like law versus custom, and 
enforcement versus public opinion. In the nineties, such 
things were relatively new and localized. Yet the basic 
issue was the same, and its political consequences, wherever 
law and custom collided were practically identical. Those 
early New York reformers were read a lesson which many 
of their spiritual successors do not yet seem to have grasped: 
that laws repressing social habits cannot be imposed upon 
self-governing communities without arousing popular dis- 
content which, in turn, produces not only political revolt 
but also public tolerance of wholesale graft and other cor- 
rupt practices. 

As for those persons who, knowing all this, nevertheless 
persist in such policies 5 they simply abet that most para- 
doxical of political combinations: 'The ^Alliance of the 'Puri- 
tan and the Qrafter. 

That telling phrase was coined by Alfred Hodder, one 
of the few reformers of the nineties who possessed both 
sympathetic insight and a saving sense of humor. Hodder 
wittily exposed this "alliance, 3 ' by which the Puritan got 
the applause, the grafter got the graft and the public 
paid. 5 

Developing Hodder's idea, Sydney Brooks makes some 
reflections on American politics, so shrewd and penetrating 
that they may be read with profit by us of today: 

"TJie ordinary American is, in politics, both a senti- 
mentalist and a coward. He believes (or likes to pretend 
he believes) that legislation can cure anything. So when 
a zealot arises who demands that henceforth there shall be 
no Sunday drinking in New York City, no gambling, and 
no prostitution, he finds the State Legislature at Albany 
more than ready to meet him half-way. Pandering to the 


moral sentiment of the community is one of the daily necessi- 
ties (or pastimes) of American political life. 

" The consequence is that the most impossible laws find 
their way on to the statute-book. . . We are dealing, re- 
member, with a cosmopolitan, feverish, pleasure-loving 
population, pagan in its tastes, its habits, its opinions ; im- 
bued with a mercenary view of politics 5 and always in more 
or less open revolt against the laws by which the State 
Legislature (largely elected and controlled by rural votes 
and notions) attempts to regulate its behavior. It is a 
population that takes instinctively to the ideal of: 14* free- 
and-easy life in a free-and-easy town. 

" This is an ideal with which Tammany whole-heartedly 
sympathizes} and one which, for a price, it will undertake 
to translate into fact. New Yorkers, arguing that the fault 
is not so much in themselves as in the Puritanical lawmakers 
at Albany, will agree that it is better that the purveyors 
of c pleasure ' should pay blackmail to the police than that 
there should be no * pleasure' at all. It is just here, of 
course, that they end by finding themselves in conflict with 
the stringent code and severer logic of the reformers who 
do not remember that, though Americans respect law, they 
do not always respect laws. . . 

cc The law being on the statute-book, however, something 
must be done about it. To repeal it is hopeless; because 
no legislator will dare to have it said that he favors gambling 
or Sunday drinking or vice of any kind. 

a Hence follow, especially among reformers, the most ex- 
traordinary devices for getting out of the pit of their own 
digging. Some will rigidly enforce the law in its minutest 
stringency, and so convulse the city. Others are for what 
they call 'liberal enforcement'; that is to say, they will 


punish serious and flagrant violations, and leave the rest 

" But this is a policy which creates as much ill-feeling and 
repulsion as the severer and more logical plan, and consider- 
ably more uncertainty. 

" The reformers were unable to avoid the dilemma. The 
Mayor favored liberality > on the arguable ground that 
the extreme of the law is always the extreme of injustice. 
The District Attorney was first for altering the law (which 
proved impossible) and then for carrying it out to the letter 
which proved more impossible. In the end, between the 
two of them, the saloon-keepers, the Germans, the Irish, the 
extreme temperance party, and the average citizen were 
about equally alienated. 

" The Tammany method is, after all, the most consistent 
and the easiest. To the saloon-keeper and other purveyors 
of pleasure, Tammany, through the mouths of its police 
officers, simply says: c Pay me so much per month, and I will 
protect you.' 

" In the result, everybody is contented. The law remains 
on the statute-book, a glowing testimony to the c morality ' 
of New York j it is not enforced, so nobody feels its in- 
convenience 5 and Tammany grows rich out of the proceeds. 

" A league with vice? Yes; but a league that the idealism 
and hypocrisy of American politics have combined to make 
all but inevitable." Q 

What undoubtedly angered New Yorkers most was the 
enforcement of the Sunday liquor law. If the moral re- 
formers who urged Mayor Strong strictly to prohibit Sun- 
day liquor-selling had only read the history of their own 
town, they might have realized the trouble they were laying 
up for their administration. New York had kicked over the 


traces before on the liquor issue. Away back in 1854, when 
up-State New York was swept by a temperance wave, the 
Legislature had passed a "Dry Law" of a very arid 

Instantly, the metropolis was up in arms against " hayseed 
tyranny." Many persons were seriously alarmed at the out- 
look. " The cautious laid up supplies against the dry day. 
Those who boasted not cellars threatened to flee the State 
before July 4th, 1855, when the new statute, entitled: c An 
Act for the Prevention of Intemperance, Pauperism, and 
Crime/ was to go into effect. The Fourth of July had been 
chosen because it marked, in the language of the Drys, a new 
birth of freedom freedom from the Demon Rum." 7 

In this hectic hour a clever politician stepped forward to 
calm popular fears. He was Fernando Wood, the new 
Mayor. In a series of proclamations he made it clear that 
New York City would never be " dry " so long as he was 

Result: Fernando Wood was hailed as a deliverer 5 and 
on this wave of popularity he rode securely into his grafting 

One of the most unfortunate results of repressive liquor 
legislation was that it made the foreign-born citizens vote 
on this one burning question, to the exclusion of all other 

The Germans, for instance, were a thrifty, self-respecting, 
law-abiding folk, who under normal circumstances would 
have ranged themselves on the side of civic betterment and 
political reform. 

But the moral reformers would not have it so. In the 
late sixties, the Legislature passed an Excise Law forbidding 
the Sunday sale of intoxicating drinks. This deprived the 


Germans of their chief pleasure a Sunday outing at a beer- 
garden, which the Legislature (legally) abolished with a 
stroke of the pen. 

The irate Teutons, however, declined to submit and bit- 
terly opposed the new Law. Determined to have their 
Sunday beer they first tried to gain their end legally by 
having the statute declared unconstitutional. 

The Germans failed in their legal endeavors. The Excise 
Law was not only declared constitutional} it was further 
sharpened. By the nineties, liquor-selling on Sunday, and 
gaming at all times, were legally prohibited in New York 
City, under heavy penalties. 

But gambling- joints continued to run by the hundreds, 
while the Germans still had their Sunday beer! 

Then Mayor Strong appointed Theodore Roosevelt Police 
Commissioner. " Roosevelt was young, ambitious, and filled 
with a large sense of his own righteousness. He enforced 
the Sunday closing law vigorously, and the result was that 
he became a terror to pinochle players in the back rooms of 
saloons. The small joys began to disappear from daily 
life, and their place was taken by that abstract ghost, 
The Law y which, try as hard as they could, people who 
liked sex, beer, and cards could neither see, taste, nor 
touch." 8 

The moralists were delighted, but many other persons 
voiced different opinions. So loud grew the chorus of dis- 
content that the Democrats made c/f Liberal Sunday and 
TPersonal Liberty the chief planks in their platform during 
the campaign next year (1895). 

On the other hand, the Republicans, angling for the rural 
vote, prophesied Free Whiskey and 3^o Sunday ', if the 
Democrats won. The up-State voters apparently feared 


this, for they elected a Republican Governor and a legis- 
lative majority. 

Below the Bronx, however, things went just the other 
way. New Yorkers had no chance to elect a new Mayor 
that year. But there were the County offices to vote for} 
and the metropolitan masses, swarming to the polls, voted 
heavily for Tammany. The turn of the tide was plain. 

The unexpected complications which arise from legislation 
attempting to regulate social habits are strikingly exempli- 
fied by the so-called Raines Law. 

Senator Raines, an ardent " Dry," thought he was hitting 
the saloon hard when he framed his famous Bill providing 
that hotels only could serve liquor on Sunday. It was on 
Sunday that the saloons were busiest 5 for then, men had 
both time to kill and money to spend. Senator Raines and 
the moral reformers intended to stop this. 

The Senator fondly believed that he had dealt a body- 
blow to the Demon Rum. But what actually happened was 
that every saloon leased the floor above, and became a " ho- 
tel." To pay the extra rent, the rooms were let to transients 
and no questions asked. The net result of the Raines 
Law, therefore, was that the saloons continued to do business 
(on a more immoral basis), while prostitution was greatly 
extended, and opportunities for casual fornication were made 
cheaper and easier than ever before. 

Commercialized vice was, in the nineties, as thorny a prob- 
lem as that of liquor; and legislative efforts to stamp it out 
were equally futile. 

In order to understand the reason for this, we must try 
to grasp the spirit of the times. And that is not easy 5 be- 
cause, while New York's attitude toward liquor has not 
altered, its attitude toward prostitution has greatly changed. 


Yet the basic reason for this change is, not prohibitory laws, 
but the processes o social evolution. 

Today, factors like the economic emancipation of woman 
and what has been wittily termed he ^Amateur Competition 
have so diminished the demand for public prostitutes that 
commercialized vice is no longer a major problem. As we 
know, public opinion in New York now favors (or, at least, 
acquiesces in) laws against street-walkers and disorderly 
houses 5 whereas it is emphatically not behind the liquor laws. 

In the nineties, tradition deemed " the red lights " as in- 
evitable as saloons. Most men then believed that the segre- 
gation of vice in a " red-light district " was the only feasible 
method of control. 

Richard Croker undoubtedly voiced the majority opinion 
of his day in a newspaper interview regarding Dr. Park- 
hurst's activities. When asked what he thought about the 
celebrated preacher's crusade against vice, Croker answered 

" I have never said anything against Dr. Parkhurst, and 
I have a good deal of respect for any man who tries to do 
what he thinks is right. His methods are simply a matter 
of opinion. Personally, I don't believe they are wise. 

" Of course, he knows, and everybody else knows, that 
no man or set of men can eradicate the social evil. All that 
anybody can do is to prevent it from annoying and contami- 
nating respectable people. I don't believe Dr. Parkhurst's 
methods can accomplish that object. The indiscriminate 
closing of all places, regardless of their location, simply 
spreads the evil all over the city. It does not restrict it. It 
expands it." 9 

Here, as usual, Croker was a realist. He knew that Little 
Old New York was a free-and-easy metropolis, bent on its 


time-honored pleasures. A popular song of those days ended 
with the refrain: / want what I want when I want it! That 
exactly voiced the spirit of the Gay Nineties and of the 
early Twentieth Century as well. The reformers had tried 
to close up things that the metropolis wanted left "wide- 
open." And New Yorkers showed what they thought of 
those tactics at the very first opportunity. 

The Strong administration, a model of honesty and effi- 
ciency, might under other circumstances have won enthusias- 
tic popular support. But it had committed the cardinal 
blunder against which " Old Mike " had warned Big John 
Kennedy: It had " got between the people and its beer! " 



THREE years was the term of Richard Croker's voluntary 
exile, from the time he formally resigned his strategic Chair- 
manship in the spring of 1894 until his dramatic return 
from England in September 1897, on the eve of the most 
momentous Mayoralty campaign New York City had ever 

Three years is a long time, politically. It was doubly 
long in Croker's case. For the Boss-ship of Tammany Hall 
is such a personal affair that absentee rule demands great 
dexterity. Nothing, indeed, so attests Croker's political 
genius as the way in which he kept his hand on the machine 
from overseas. 

During his exile, Croker metamorphosed himself into an 
English sportsman. Besides a town house in London, he 
had an establishment near his racing-stables at Newmarket 
and a country seat at Wantage, Berkshire. Thither he went 
to escape from worry and to indulge his sporting fancies. 
Before long, Croker knew everybody worth while in the 
neighborhood, and seemed perfectly at ease with the racing 

Wantage was much like the country seat of any well-to-do 
English gentleman. The house itself was surrounded by a 
moat, and there were extensive grounds. In his drawing- 
room, Croker had an electric piano. This was connected 






with his bed chamber, so that he could play it if he wished 
at any hour o the day or night. A fine billiard room with 
tables by Roberts intrigued that great player to visit the 
great politician. 1 

Croker insisted upon driving a good horse, which meant 
to him a fast trotter. Promising foals and race-horses stood 
in his stables, with celebrated trainers in charge. 

Here, Croker was like a boy out of school. One foal he 
himself brought up by hand. He would talk by the hour 
to Ttobbins, his favorite race-horse, as if he really believed 
the splendid stallion understood. Two bulldogs: Rodney 
Stone (world's champion) and "Bromley C r $y were especial 
favorites. But perhaps Croker's greatest fun was feeding the 
pigs. These he had named after New York politicians whom 
he knew to be crooked and greedy. 

All this time, the Boss was awaiting the psychological mo- 
ment to return to the political fray. Secret agents at home 
served him well, and their confidential reports kept him 
in close touch with all that happened. 

And much did happen during those three years: notably, 
one event which radically altered the entire metropolitan 
situation. The Legislature had passed the " Greater New 
York " bill, enlarging the city to its present size. Instead 
of merely Manhattan and the Bronx, New York was thence- 
forth to include the Boroughs of Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, 
and Richmond (Staten Island). By a stroke of the legisla- 
tive pen, New York was thus trebled in size and nearly 
doubled in population. Here, indeed, was a sweeping trans- 
formation, which might have incalculable consequences. 

The Greater New York Charter was the work of political 
reformers, aided by the Republicans. Both had their special 
ends in view. The reformers wanted to add the great 


middle-class residential districts of Brooklyn to the metropo- 
lis, since these might be expected to balance Manhattan's 
tenement vote. Furthermore, in order to weaken the appeal 
of party regularity, the Bill provided that Mayoralty elec- 
tions should fall in "off-years"; i.e., years when national 
elections for President or Congress did not take place. So 
the first municipal election under the new charter was slated 
for 1897; thereby (incidentally) giving the Strong ad- 
ministration an additional year in office. 

The Republicans acquiesced in all this because Brooklyn 
had normally been Republican, while Queens and Richmond 
(then semi-rural) were even more strongly of that political 
faith. Since the Republican vote of Manhattan and the 
Bronx already averaged better than 35%, these reenforce- 
ments might turn the trick and make a Greater New York " 
a Republican metropolis. Thus reasoned Platt and his lieu- 
tenants. And, by the same token, Tammany looked askance 
at consolidation. But Platt had the votes at Albany, so the 
new charter went through. 

An important change in the local Democratic situation 
should also be noted. Tammany always had been (and, for 
that matter, still is) a distinctively Manhattan organization. 
Even the Bronx Democracy, while usually amenable to or- 
ders from the Wigwam, was not technically part of Tam- 
many Hall. 

The extension of the city's borders introduced a new 
factor in the shape of a powerful, high-spirited Brooklyn 
organization, known as the " Kings' County Democracy." 2 
A well-drilled machine led by a local Boss of real ability, the 
Kings' County Democracy was not disposed to take orders 
from any one, and would surely demand its say in all metro- 
politan decisions. 


The leader of the Brooklyn Democracy, Hugh McLaugh- 
lin, was a Boss of the old breed. Born and reared in the 
hard school of poverty, McLaughlin, like Croker, had 
forged to the front by innate forcefulness and ability. 
Moreover, McLaughlin had ruled his bailiwick longer than 
Croker had Tammany ; for he had dominated Democratic 
politics " across the river " since the close of the Civil War. 
The independent role played by Hugh McLaughlin and the 
Kings' County Democracy must henceforth be remembered 
as a constant factor in all Croker's political calculations. 

While Croker was mulling over these matters, another 
political complication arose, different in character but even 
greater in scope. This was the rise of Bryanism. The 
radical tide which had been rapidly rising in the West over- 
whelmed the Democratic National Convention of 1896, and 
committed the party to the Free Silver heresy embodied in 
the famous slogan: 16 to I ! 

The effect was catastrophic. The Democracy of the East- 
ern States was shattered. The conservative right-wing of the 
party bolted and put a special "Gold Democrat " ticket in 
the field. Many Democrats who did not formally bolt, 
either secretly knifed Bryan at the polls or exhibited a mere 
perfunctory regularity. 

Among these latter were David B. Hill, the New York 
State Boss, and the leaders of Tammany Hall. Hill and 
Tammany had fought Bryan fiercely on the Convention 
floor. When " The Peerless One " had swept the Conven- 
tion off its feet with his flaming oratory about the Crown of 
Thorns and Cross of Gold, a reporter asked Hill if he were 
still a Democrat. To which, the up-State Boss replied: " I 
am a Democrat still very still! " 

And so was Tammany 5 the result being that William 


McKinley, the Republican candidate, carried New York 
City to the tune of 20,000 votes. 

In the hurly-burly of the first Bryan campaign, Richard 
Croker was nowhere to be found. He had no desire to be 
mixed up in such a mess; so he remained abroad practically 
all that year, and refused to talk about anything but horses. 

But from his English estate, Croker was watching every 
move of the Strong administration. Cannily he noted each 
mistake made by the reformers, and the resulting chorus of 
popular discontent over strict enforcement of the anti- 
gambling and liquor laws. To a close friend he remarked: 
" Roosevelt is all there is to the Strong administration, and 
Roosevelt will make it or break it." 3 

By the spring of 1897, Croker had about made up his 
mind that the time was ripe for his return to political life. 
He sensed the trend against the reformers and knew that if 
he led Tammany to victory in the coming Mayoralty cam- 
paign, it would be the greatest triumph in his career. This 
very point was being urged upon him by his close supporters. 
By early summer (1897) several of his old friends, such as 
William C. Whitney and Hugh J. Grant, came to England 
to argue with him. For a while, Croker asserted that he 
was definitely out of politics, but presently he told his in- 
timates in confidence that he would return to New York 
by Fall. 

On September 7, 1897, the Boss landed in Manhattan. 
Next day a New York newspaper thus describes what his 
admirers afterwards termed: 7 "he Return -from Slba. 

" Richard Croker, perceptibly grayer of hair and beard, 
and with a deep tan on his cheeks, stood in the bow of the 
S.S. D^ew Tork as she steamed slowly up the bay yesterday 
morning. He was dressed in a plain blue serge suit, a blue 


cravat was snugly tied at his low collar, a white Alpine hat 
was crushed down over his grizzled hair, and he leaned on 
a cane. 

" His eyes were keen and lively. From under the shaggy 
brows he shot furtive glances at the jagged profile o the 
great city ahead, the outline of which was just beginning to 
be defined as the morning mist drifted away. Those who 
gazed at the Tammany chief knew that his brain was busy, 
and the hard, set expression of the face was some index of 
the thought. 

" Mr. Croker's homecoming is fraught with great concern 
to Tammany Hall. None of the Braves ventured down the 
bay to meet him, and there was no noisy demonstration of 
welcome. This was in accordance with Mr. Croker's wish. 
He wanted to come back quietly and unobtrusively. But it 
is safe to say that there is not a member of Tammany Hall 
(not to mention those outside the organization) who has 
not asked himself: ' What is Croker going to do? ' " 4 

The returned Boss was faced with a very complicated 
situation, especially within his own party. He knew that 
only by clever tactics, combined with an iron will, could he 
master the difficulties which beset his path. 

Croker's return made a considerable stir, and all sorts of 
rumors were afloat. But to all inquiries Croker maintained 
his canny silence, intimating that he was still " out of poli- 
tics " and adopting the air of a retired statesman. In fact, 
after conferences with some intimate friends, he left the city 
for his stock-farm at Richfield Springs, and did not return 
to town until the end of September. 

Croker knew that before the Mayoralty campaign got 
fairly under way, he must be once more the undisputed mas- 
ter of Tammany Hall. This would not be easy; because, 


during his long absence, the organization had begun to get 
out of hand. Three years off the pay-roll had left the tiger 
hungry and hungry tigers are proverbially hard to 
handle. The ranks were a-grumble with sullen discontent, 
while the officers' corps was mutinous. All in all, it was a 
pretty ticklish situation. 

Tammany's nominal head was John C. Sheehan, installed 
by Croker as his deputy. Sheehan was not a New Yorker. 
He was a Buffalo politician who had moved to the metropolis 
some years before. Though his rise in Tammany had been 
rapid, Sheehan lacked those local roots which anchor the 
average district leader in the loyal affections of his " home 
ward." That, however, was probably the main reason why 
Croker had made Sheehan his deputy. With no sure base 
save Croker's favor, Sheehan had seemed an ideal chair- 
warmer, to be unseated at the Boss's good will and pleasure. 
Furthermore, Sheehan was weak and vain added reasons 
for his " promotion." 

Yet Croker had made one miscalculation. Being vain, 
Sheehan loved even the shadow of power which brought him 
public prominence and political lip-service 5 being weak, he 
might be cajoled by others, stronger than he, who aspired 
to the half-vacant throne. For the headship of Tammany, 
remember, is not an appointment, but a growth $ and a stern 
survival of the fittest is forever at work adjusting authority 
to reality. 

So, during Sheehan's vice-royalty, ambitious district lead- 
ers had dreamed dreams and had unobtrusively prepared 
against future eventualities. Strongest among these embryo 
pretenders to the seat of power stood the burly form of " Big 
Tim " Sullivan, liege-lord of the lower East Side, who for 
years had been quietly cementing alliances with neighboring 


district leaders and was now (next to Croker) the most 
powerful personage in the Tammany organization. 

Big Tim's agents had not failed to whisper in Sheehan's 
ear that the days of his vice-royalty were numbered, now 
that Croker was returning 5 and they went on to ask pointedly 
how he liked the prospect. And Sheehan had shown by his 
attitude that he did not like it at all. 

We have already said that Croker's secret agents served 
him well. So we may be sure that all these doings were 
known to Croker in his exile. Yet mere knowledge did not 
solve the problem ; and it was presumably this which, during 
the homeward voyage, made the Boss pace the deck, aloof 
and silent, during the long watches of the night. 

Once landed, Croker did not waste a moment. His dis- 
interested pose concealed a fierce activity that knew no rest. 
Those quiet conferences with trusted intimates were the first 
steps in a subterranean campaign during which every man in 
Tammany Hall was weighed and evaluated. The balance- 
sheet was none too favorable. A majority of the district 
leaders were clearly disaffected 5 Big Tim Sullivan was the 
redoubtable chief of the threatened mutiny j and Sheehan 
would not tamely resign. 

But numbers are not everything. The hostile coalition 
was still poorly cemented. Sheehan was a poor crutch for 
Big Tim to lean upon. And the Boss was a host in himself. 

So one fine autumn afternoon, Croker set out for Tam- 
many Hall. A meeting of the Executive Committee had 
been called and word had been passed that a " showdown " 
was at hand. Wherefore, the Wigwam was crowded with! 
leaders and followers, feverishly waiting. What would 

Just five minutes before four o'clock (the appointed hour) 


the familiar thickset figure with the scrubby beard and the 
steel-trap jaw walked jauntily up the steps of the Hall, 
accompanied by James J. Martin, the Committee chairman. 
The Boss was dressed in the height of fashion: black frock 
suit, satin cravat, and high silk hat with a broad black band, 
English style. 

A prominent journalist who was present on that memo- 
rable occasion gives us this vivid account of the scene that 

" The spirit of revolt was rife in Tammany. Twenty-one 
of the thirty-five district leaders, each as powerful in his own 
local sphere as the Tammany Boss had been in the general 
sense, were arrayed against him. 

u His reappearance at Tammany Hall was as dramatic a 
spectacle as I have ever seen. He walked through a long 
lane of scowling and unfriendly leaders and their henchmen, 
but seemingly paid no attention to their presence or their 
mood. A long black cigar clenched tightly in his teeth, his 
head erect, his broad square shoulders thrown well back, his 
face absolutely expressionless, his step elastic, and his whole 
personality suggesting indifference, he threaded his way 
through the hostile crowd in the public room and passed into 
the council chamber. Thence he sent a peremptory order 
to all the district leaders to come to him. Following the 
blind, unreasoning instinct of obedience, which is the law of 
organization discipline, they came. 

" The door of the council room was closed. Croker, still 
puffing at his cigar, talked to the district leaders for ten 
minutes, calmly and without apparent personal interest. He 
spoke without emotion, and addressed himself directly to the 
men lined up in front of him. He heard that some of the 
leaders had complaints to make, What were those com- 


plaints? None? Well! He just wanted to say that he was 
tired of hearing that certain leaders were dissatisfied. 

" c Tim Sullivan, are you dissatisfied? ' Croker glanced 
keenly at the man as he shot the inquiry 5 gruff, direct, with 
a challenge in it to the most powerful individual of them 
all. Sullivan declared he was not dissatisfied. 

" c Very well, then,' calmly continued Croker, c there is no 
dissatisfaction. Now I want you men to go back to your 
districts and get to work. If you don't, I'll put men in your 
places who will work. We have a show to carry New York 
this time, and if you go about it right, we'll do it. But I don't 
want to hear any more growling. We'll meet here next 
Tuesday to perfect plans for the campaign.' 

" Then Croker came out into the general committee room, 
where a portrait of John Kelly, his predecessor and mentor, 
hangs in the place of honor. Croker's appearance was the 
signal for such an exhibition of abject servility as I have never 
witnessed at a political assemblage. Men who had been 
loudest in their denunciation of him were the most demon- 
strative in their sycophantic assurances of loyalty. 

" Calm, imperturbable, Croker stood in the centre of the 
crowd and listened to their protestations of friendship and 
obedience, even though he knew, as he told me, that they 
were insincere." 5 

The embryo mutiny had been squelched. Sheehan was 
politely yet firmly deposed5 Big Tim went back to the 
Bowery to get busy and obey orders 5 and " The Boys " went 
to work with a cheer. 

The crisis was over, and the Boss was boss, indeed, once 



IN THE midst of a red-hot campaign speech, Asa Bird 
Gardiner, Tammany candidate for District Attorney, 
shouted: "To Hell with Reform! " And the crowd went 

That impromptu phrase at once became a campaign slogan 
which probably netted Tammany thousands of votes among 
the metropolitan masses, angered by Roosevelt's strict en- 
forcement of the liquor laws. For, in their anger, the masses 
forgot all the good that the Strong administration had ac- 

The Mayoralty contest of 1897 was a sizzling affair. 
And well it might bej for the stakes were enormous. The 
new charter had made the Mayor of Greater New York its 
almost absolute master, with official prerogatives hitherto 
unknown. Arbiter of the city's destiny over a four-year 
term, and with a wealth of patronage embracing 6o,OOO 
municipal jobs, the first Mayor of the enlarged metropolis 
would possess a power for good or for ill which was well- 
nigh incalculable. 

No less than four candidates were in the race for this 
superlative civic prize. First in the field was the non- 
partisan ticket, sponsored by the Citizens' Union and other 
reform bodies, and headed by Seth Low. In the eyes of his 
supporters, Mr. Low was the ideal candidate $ for he was 



a man of high character, broad intellect, and wide political 
experience. He was then President of Columbia University, 
and had made an excellent Mayor of Brooklyn some years 
before. A broad-gauge Republican, Low might count on 
drawing the liberal elements in both parties who were ready 
to ignore " regularity " in the common cause of non-partisan 
civic reform. As a matter of fact, many prominent Demo- 
crats endorsed Low's candidacy j among them, Edward 
M. Shepard, who, four years later, was to be the Tammany 

Next in order was the Tammany ticket, headed by Judge 
Robert C Van Wyck. The Tammany candidate could in 
no way compare with Seth Low. A rather obscure Judge, 
with an undistinguished record, Van Wyck was plainly a 
" machine man " who, if elected, would do as he was told by 
his political superiors. Tammany was frankly out to win 
the greatest prize municipal politics had ever offered 5 and 
anybody who blinked at that fact was either a human ostrich 
or a fool. 

The third ticket in the field was that of the so-called 
"Jefferson Democracy," the character of which can be 
judged by its Mayoralty candidate, Henry George. It was, 
in fact, a coalition of radical elements j chief among them 
being the rump of George's Laborites who had made such a 
stir in the Hewitt campaign of 1886, together with extreme 
Bryan Democrats seeking revenge for Tammany's knifing 
of their leader in the Presidential contest the year before. 
The Jefferson Democracy was thus an anti-Tammany or- 
ganization, since most of Henry George's support would 
come from sources normally Democratic. 

The tantalizing riddle in the campaign's early days was 
the attitude of the Republican machine. Would it endorse 


Low as it had endorsed Strong, or would it nominate a 
ticket of its own and thereby weaken the reform forces? 

Pressure was put on Platt by influential Republicans to 
make him endorse Low. But those efforts were vain, for the 
" Easy Boss " was in a very adamantine mood. One non- 
partisan administration was enough for him. If this pestif- 
erous novelty got to be a habit, where would all " practical " 
politicians end? "Platt himself afterward admitted that 
c for the doctrine of non-partisanship in local elections y he 
had f the sincerest and prof oundest contempt,' and that c the 
success of such an attempt would have a demoralizing effect 
on party organization.' " * And Edward Lauterbach, one of 
Platt's trusted lieutenants, frankly confessed that " he and 
his Republican associates would rather see a Tammany man 
elected Mayor than have a non-partisan succeed in getting 
office." 2 

There can be no reasonable doubt that Platt and Croker 
had made a definite " deal." And its first result was the 
nomination of a full Republican ticket, headed by General 
Benjamin F. Tracy, who was notoriously Platt's " man." 

The political set-up was thus described by Dr. Albert 
Shaw, a noted authority on municipal government and editor 
of a leading review: 

" The mayoralty of New York, under the new charter, is a 
dictatorship one of the three or four most important 
autocracies in the world. . . 

" Everybody in New York except persons of the most 
limited intelligence have been made fully aware that their 
choice of despot for the next four years must be made from 
a list of four men, viz.: Seth Low, Henry George, Richard 
Croker (by proxy), and Thomas C. Platt (by proxy). . . 

" The real fight of the Republican machine is against Low, 


who is himself a Republican and whose supporters are very 
largely drawn from that party. The fight of the Henry 
George forces is directed against Tammany. As election day 
approaches, it becomes clear that the Republican and Demo- 
cratic machines are, comparatively speaking, in sympathy 
with each other 3 and that, on the other hand, the Seth Low 
and the Henry George movements stand upon common 
ground in their vigorous opposition to the government of 
non-resident Bosses. For it is to be remembered that 
whereas Mr. Croker lives in England, Mr. Platt lives and 
votes in the town of Owego, Tioga County." 3 

Croker's foreign residence and associates were stock argu- 
ments of his opponents, and the changes were rung upon 
this issue with a virulence far removed from the polite sar- 
casm of the dignified editor of 7 he Review of Reviews. 
Croker was branded as having hob-nobbed on English race- 
tracks with "British snobs" including, of course, the 
Prince of Wales. As one stump-orator elegantly phrased 
it: " He spends his time flocking with the lecherous sons of 
a rotten aristocracy." * 

Henry George devoted most of his efforts to bitter at- 
tacks on, Croker, saying that, if elected Mayor, he would 
cause a searching investigation into Croker's suddenly ac- 
quired wealth j and Mr. George went on to intimate that 
such an investigation would cause the Tammany Boss to end 
his career, like his predecessor, Tweed, with a trip to the 
penitentiary. The fiery Single-Taxer closed with those 
words: " The best thing Croker can do, if I am elected, is to 
take the first ship for England and join the Prince of Wales 
and his other snob friends/' 

To this, Croker answered next day: " I feel complimented 
that they (Henry George et als.) have made me their plat- 


form. It shows how utterly lacking they are in issues* If 
Mr. George is such a great lover of justice as he pretends 
to be, the Grand Jury room is open to him now, just the same 
as it would be if he were Mayor." 5 In other words, it looked 
like an old-fashioned, mud-slinging campaign. 

When the contest was at its height, Henry George sud- 
denly dropped dead of apoplexy. His son, Henry George, 
Jr., was promptly nominated in his stead. But the son was 
not the father, and the "Jefferson" movement quickly 
faded into the background. On election day it polled only 
20,000 votes, and there is good reason to believe that thou- 
sands of men who had intended voting for the famous Single- 
Taxer switched back to their normal allegiance and voted 
Democratic as usual. 

Meanwhile, Tammany was carrying on in the spirit of 
Gardiner's slogan: To Hell with Reform! The main line 
of attack was voiced by one of Tammany's spokesmen, who 
exclaimed: " Tammany serves notice tonight on the ignorant 
and incompetent administration which now governs this city 
that it has started a relentless warfare against the c reform ' 
cabal, which will not end till that cabal is exterminated, root 
and branch, and New York City is redeemed from its domi- 
nation. This ignorant set has made New York ridiculous in 
the eyes of the world, presenting the picture of Hypocrisy 
arm-in-arm with the ghost of assumed Virtue j watching 
Hope die in the arms of official Incompetence." 6 

When the campaign got fairly under way and the Tam- 
many orators warmed up, their vitriolic flights knew no 
bounds. The reformers were denounced as " whited sepul- 
chres " and " political howling dervishes " not to mention 
such stock epithets as " snobs," " silk-stockings," and so forth. 
The campaign was hard-fought and bitter. It was also 


highly picturesque. That was the era of torchlight parades 
with gaily-uniformed marching-clubs, blaring bands, and 
rolling, booming drum-corps. 

The most unusual spectacle of the campaign was undoubt- 
edly " The Chicago Invasion." Carter Harrison, Mayor of 
Chicago and Boss of Cook County, was a close friend of 
Croker's, and had volunteered to do his bit in " whooping it 
up " for Tammany. A few days before election, the Chicago 
Boss and a delegation several hundred strong arrived in New 
York by special train, and that evening Tammany staged a 
big show to bid its allies welcome. 

It was a grand occasion. By nightfall, i-4th Street was 
jammed with a surging crowd, from Third Avenue to Union 
Square. Fireworks, three brass bands, and parading Tam- 
many delegations enthused the crowd for hours. Then the 
embattled Cook County Democrats, headed by their own 
band and a gigantic drum-major, marched down I4th Street 
and into Tammany Hall. They were in gala attire: black 
frock coats, tall silk hats, and white gloves. The climax of 
the evening came when Carter Harrison and Richard Croker 
appeared arm-in-arm, and the big hall, packed to capacity, 
rang with frantic cheers. 

The campaign drew to its close in a fever of excitement 
and a glare of red-fire. The contestants did their utmost 
amid torrents of oratory. Every voter in Greater New 
York was appealed to in every conceivable way, and was 
insistently urged to " do his duty " at the polls. 

From the reform standpoint, the most disquieting factor 
was the suspected understanding between the Democratic 
and Republican machines. The newspapers devoted col- 
umns of space to " exposures " of the " deal " between Platt 
and Croker. Yet the indignation aroused by these exposures 


among liberal-minded men in both parties promised many 
votes for Seth Low. The reform elements were all solidly 
behind the non-partisan ticket and could be relied upon to 
work in harmony. The election would be a fair test of a 
metropolitan sentiment. The outcome was in the hands of 
the voters. 

Election day came: the first Mayoralty contest of Greater 
New York. All over the metropolis, from Manhattan's 
congested East Side to quiet hamlets on the outskirts of 
Queens and Staten Island villages, the citizens flocked to 
the polls. Voting was heavy but orderly, and the day passed 
immemorably brawlless. 

When the polls closed at nightfall, the general impression 
was that the outcome was uncertain. Van Wyck had ob- 
viously swept Manhattan, but Seth Low had run strongly 
in the other Boroughs. The reformers had good grounds 
for hope. 

The first returns indicated a close race. Then, as the eve- 
ning wore on, tremendous majorities came in from the 
Tammany strongholds. Van Wyck was in the lead! Be- 
fore ten o'clock it was practically certain that he had won, 
and the rest of the Tammany ticket as well. 

Then " Little Old New York " broke loose. The resi- 
dential districts of Brooklyn might be dark and silent, but 
Manhattan gave itself over to exuberant rejoicings such as 
the metropolis had rarely seen. From the Bowery to 42nd 
Street, the town was in an uproar. Union Square, Madison 
Square, Herald Square, Broadway, and Sixth Avenue were 
jammed with milling, jostling throngs, frenziedly acclaim- 
ing Tammany's victory. 

The din was tremendous. Staid-looking citizens, casting 
dignity to the winds, capered like school-boys, blew hoarse 



blasts upon tin horns, or whirled ear-splitting rattles. Fire- 
works in Madison Square and the explosion of bombs in mid- 
air vied with the tumult below. 

From ten o'clock until long past midnight, the jubilation 
went on. Every hotel, theatre, saloon, and dance-hall was 
crowded to suffocation, and each election bulletin provoked 
a fresh roar. Street-fakirs were everywhere selling their 
miniature roosters, brooms, and tigers 5 papier mache tigers, 
these, eight or nine inches long, which clung garishly to one's 
frock or coat. 

Around hotel bars, crowded five and six deep, total 
strangers clapped each other on the back, and between drinks 
vociferated hilariously: "We didn't do a thing to Reform, 
did we? " 

Asa Bird Gardiner's slogan was, in fact, the keynote of 
the celebration. Impromptu parades started, with hastily 
scrawled placards reading: To Hell with Reform! And 
through the swarming crowds burst phalanxes of young men 
in snake-dance formation, chanting endlessly the refrain: 
"Well! Well! Well! Ref orm has gone to Hell! " 

Borne on the foaming crest of this wave of popular re- 
joicing, Tammany radiated triumph. In one of the spacious 
parlors of the Murray Hill Hotel, Richard Croker, sur- 
rounded by jubilant admirers, received the election returns. 
When asked by a reporter for a statement, the Boss glanced 
up from a bulletin he was scanning and said laconically: " I 
told you three years ago that when reformers got into office, 
they tried to stand so straight that they fell over backward! " 

As soon as Van Wyck's election was seen to be assured, 
Croker proceeded to Tammany Hall. Ascending the rear 
stairway, the Boss emerged quietly from the door at the back 
of the stage and paused to survey the scene. 


The vast, barnlike auditorium, draped with bunting, was 
a blue haze of tobacco smoke and shouting, stamping men. 
As the Boss paused in the doorway, Thomas R Grady, Tam- 
many's star orator, was in full swing. " If Mr. Croker " 
shouted Grady, and then stopped, his voice drowned by ap- 
plause. " If Mr. Croker," continued the orator, " returned 
from Europe to direct our politics, he made a good job of 
it _ ( A voice : " You bet he did ! ") Grady got no further, 
for at this moment the crowd glimpsed Croker as he walked 
slowly onto the stage. 

Then pandemonium broke forth. Shouts, yells, cheer 
upon cheer, rent the smoke-laden air. Minute after minute, 
the ovation kept up, while the Boss, smiling and nodding curt 
acknowledgments, stood quietly and received the frenzied 
homage of his followers. 

It was unquestionably the greatest moment of his career. 
He had led Tammany to supreme triumph. He had ensured 
the Tiger four years of unlimited power over the metropolis. 
Richard Croker was indeed Master of Manhattan. 



THE DAY following Tammany's triumph, Mayor-elect Van 
Wyck stated: " I will be frank and plain as to the men I 
shall call to office. Tut S^pne but "Democrats on Quard! 
shall be the motto of my administration." 

Here was fair warning. Non-partisan reform was in the 
discard. Greater New York would begin its civic life under 
an out-and-out Tammany administration. That was what 
the voters had apparently wanted. And that was what they 
would surely get. 

Furthermore, they would get government of, by, and for 
Richard Croker. No well-informed citizen could doubt it. 
Van Wyck was obviously Croker's cc man." The Boss had 
plucked him from obscurity and had seated him in the 
Mayor's enlarged chair. Van Wyck was " machine-made." 
He would do as he was told. 

Of this, Croker soon gave a convincing demonstration. 
Having refreshed himself from his campaign labors by a 
brief pleasure jaunt in the South, Croker took up his next 
task the division of the spoils. In the Greater New York 
of tomorrow, the wealth of patronage would be enormous. 
And it must all be duly apportioned before the Van Wyck 
administration took office on New Year's Day. Of course, 
the charter provided that appointments should be made by 
the Mayor himself. But the law permitted this civic autocrat 



to take advice* And Mr. Croker now showed the public who 
Van Wyck's adviser would be. 

Shortly after Thanksgiving, the Boss, with " his " Mayor, 
went to Lakewood, New Jersey, and established headquarters 
at the principal hotel. There, all who hoped for office must 
come to do obeisance to the Boss. And thither they promptly 
came. Every train for Lakewood was filled with politicians, 
great and small, and the big hotel was soon crowded with a 
bustling, expectant throng. 

The New York newspapers called Lakewood " Croker's 
Court. 57 And well they might; for the triumphant Boss 
gave himself the airs of a royal sovereign. His every act 
seemed deliberately designed to impress his followers with a 
sense of his autocratic power. 

In the first place, Croker compelled them to come to him 
at a relatively remote place of his own choosing, not merely 
out of the city, but even out of the State. And from the 
moment they entered the hotel doors, they were made to 
feel the Boss's authority. 

The stage-setting was perfect. The spacious lobby of the 
Lakewood Hotel was Croker's audience-chamber. Strolling 
back and forth, deep in low- voiced conference with successive 
leaders, the Boss held the centre of the stage. Every eye was 
continually upon him, while the throng of politicians, watch- 
ing at a respectful distance, patiently waited their turn to be 
summoned to " the presence." 

The audience-chamber was merely part of an elaborate 
court ceremonial, rigidly enforced. In the big dining-room 
Croker's table was conspicuously placed j and at that table, 
only the Mayor-elect was permitted regularly to sit. Even 
the most distinguished Tammany notables received occa- 
sional invitations to be Croker's guest. 


The Boss's most extraordinary order was his decree of eve- 
ning dress. At dinner, Croker always appeared in evening 
clothes, and he let it be known that those about him must be 
similarly attired, on penalty of his displeasure. 

The results were startling even ludicrous. Tammany 
roughnecks struggled into " boiled shirts," grew apoplectic 
over high starched collars, and tried to look at ease in " tux- 
edos" or swallowtails which, somehow, would not fit. 
Among this uneasy company sauntered the Boss immacu- 
lately tailored by London's best. Croker fairly flaunted his 
English wardrobe, his English manners even his English 
valet. And the very men who had most fiercely denounced 
" Anglomaniacs " swallowed it whole and followed 

With leaders like Big Tim Sullivan gasping in amaze- 
ment, the ordinary Braves were in a daze. If the Boss had 
appeared arrayed in crown and sceptre, they could not have 
been much more astonished. The wildest rumors concerning 
the Boss's foreign habits were afloat, and were apt to be be- 
lieved. Perhaps the most amusing instance of this was the 
hoax played on three humble office-seekers. " They were 
told that every morning at sun-up Croker walked on the 
hotel lawn in his bare feet, and if they wanted to make them- 
selves solid with the Boss they should follow his example. 
The misguided fellows adopted the suggestion next morning, 
notwithstanding the fact that a light snow had fallen during 
the night. Croker saw them through the window. c Come 
in out of there,' he called to them. c Do you want to catch 
pneumonia? ' " * 

For over a month, Croker's court went on. By Christmas 
it was generally understood that " the slate " had been made 
up and every important office apportioned. Through it all, 


the Mayor-elect had played his part with the air of dignity 
gained on the judicial bench. The Boss treated Van Wyck 
with urbane politeness, and took care that the Mayor-elect 
received due deference. Everybody understood the realities 
of the situation, but appearances must be preserved, for the 
Boss's dignity as well as his deputy's. 

Despite this lip-service, Van Wyck did not seem wholly 
happy 5 for, away from " the presence," he vented his iras- 
cible nature in occasional fits of spleen. In conference, how- 
ever, his demeanor was flawless, and he never failed to give 
the Boss's " suggestions " his dignified O.K. 

Adjourning his Lakewood " court " in the closing days of 
the year, Croker headed the Tammany host in its return to 
the metropolis, for Inauguration Day. 

The evening before that momentous event, the Boss held 
a grand reception at which he shone in the height of his 
glory. As the press described it: "Anyone who desired to 
observe the Court of Croker should have paid a visit to the 
Murray Hill Hotel last night. The brilliantly lighted lobby 
of the big hotel swarmed with the Boss's adherents. Into 
the midst of his courtiers, now and then, strolled Mr. Croker, 
arrayed in a tuxedo, silk hat, and a big cigar. He didn't sit 
down at all, but leaned now against the counter and again 
sauntered over to the news stand, talking to whatever man 
or group might be lucky enough to secure a word from him. 
The politicians talked among themselves, but every eye fol- 
lowed the Boss's every movement," 2 

At noon on New Year's Day (January i, 1898) the 
Strong administration went out of office and Tammany took 
over, not merely Manhattan, but all of Greater New York. 
The new regime burst in with much pomp and ceremony. 
City Hall blazed with light, effectually routing the gloom 


of a foggy winter day. A band played, and the old building 
swarmed with Tammany men, surging exultantly through 
the flag-draped rooms and corridors. As soon as Mayor Van 
Wyck had been inaugurated, he announced a long list of 
municipal appointments amid salvos of shouts and cheers. 

In the throng that attended the new Mayor's inaugura- 
tion, only one prominent figure was absent Richard 
Croker. With his usual canny tact, he let Mayor Van Wyck 
be the whole show on this occasion 3 perhaps, also, because 
he, the Boss, thought it better for his own prestige not to 
appear where he would necessarily occupy second place. 

But that same afternoon, Richard Croker put on his own 
show, where he could rightfully hold the centre of the stage. 
This was at the opening of his new headquarters, the Demo- 
cratic Club. There the Tammany cohorts, fresh from the 
inaugural ceremonies, hastened in joyous mood. And that 
mood the Boss had prepared to satisfy. For after a con- 
veniently brief speech of welcome, the Club President, ex- 
Governor Flower, smilingly announced: a Gentlemen, the 
back room is ready for luncheon. The bar is open wide 
open. So walk in and help yourselves! " 

Hungry and very thirsty, the crowd needed no second 
bidding. Croker's guests found his hospitality ample; for 
in the "back room" was a long table laden with refresh- 
ments 5 on the well-stocked bar were two huge punchbowls; 
while for those with more plebeian thirsts there was a barrel 
of beer. 

The jollification lasted well into the evening. On this 
occasion, ceremony was waived, Croker was the genial host, 
and everybody had a " grand time." 

Yet the reins, loosened a bit at fitting moments, were soon 
tightened again. On the morrow of Inauguration Day, 


Richard Croker, the genial host o the previous evening, had 
become the stern Boss once more. As for Mayor Van Wyckj 
having had his taste of the limelight, he assumed his proper 
place. Before the new administration was a month old, so 
temperate a critic as Albert Shaw wrote caustically: " The 
recent elevation of Richard Croker to a position of acknowl- 
edged authority in politics is absolutely without parallel in 
the history of the United States. Thus far, the government 
of our huge metropolis has been conducted personally by 
Mr. Croker quite as if he were a prince regent, with Mayor 
Van Wyck as titular occupant of the throne, but disqualified 
on the ground of infancy or mental incapacity." 3 

Croker's pose, indeed, befitted a royal personage. The 
court at Lakewood was a mere prologue to the court at the 
Democratic Club. The Club, itself, was virtually Croker's 
own creation. Before he took it in hand, the Democratic 
Club of New York City was a rather run-down institution, 
deeply in debt. Shortly after the November election, Croker 
announced that the Club was to be the social centre for the 
new administration and intimated that membership would be 
highly desirable for those prominent in the Party. That was 
enough! The Membership Committee was besieged with 
applications. By New Year's the Club had a waiting-list 
and blossomed forth in luxurious quarters on Fifth Avenue 
near Central Park. 

Henceforth, the Democratic Club replaced the Wigwam 
as the rendezvous of Tammany's elect. Croker lived there 
most of the time and was usually present to oversee the 
proceedings. The code of etiquette promulgated at Lake- 
wood continued to be enforced. Evening dress was the order 
after nightfall, and decorous conduct was exacted at all times. 
" It was really as good as a play to watch Croker every 


evening. He had a table near the centre of the dining-room, 
and only the chosen few were permitted to sit with him. . . 
Any one who wanted to stand well with the chief was ex- 
pected to dine at the Club at least once a week. No one ever 
thought of going into the dining-room until Croker was 
seated, I have always believed that Croker regarded this as 
a huge joke and was continually laughing in his sleeve at his 
subservient followers. Frequently he would not go to the 
dining-room until very late, and the famished members 
would feel obliged to bear their hunger. Just as soon as 
Croker entered the dining-room there would be a grand 
rush. The majority of the diners would watch what Croker 
ordered, and then order the same thing. Croker, of course, 
pretended not to notice this, but he did. Frequently, to 
carry out his joke, he would order very little, and some of 
these brawny leaders who had large appetites would suffer 
because they were afraid to go any further than the chief." 4 

Croker did his best to make the Democratic Club a social 
as well as a political success. Every department was man- 
aged on a luxurious and elaborate scale. The cuisine was 
excellent, the bar was famous, there were entertainments 
galore, while Ladies' Day became a feature of New York 

All these activities made great press-copy. One metro- 
politan paper featured a daily " Court Calendar " such as 
the London newspapers print. In this calendar, Croker was 
gravely referred to as His ^Majesty y the Tammany leaders 
were given high-sounding titles of nobility, and the Demo- 
cratic Club became 'The Talace. 

When Croker went to Europe (as he did every summer) 
his departures and homecomings resembled royal progresses. 
The pier would be jammed with thousands of the faithful, 


the Boss's stateroom would be festooned with magnificent 
floral offerings, and the liner would be escorted by a flotilla 
of private and municipal craft. On one occasion, a police 
boat preceded Croker's ship through the Narrows and fired 
a salute of twenty-one guns. " Why, that's the President's 
salute," smilingly remarked the Boss to a friend. 

Croker's mastery over New York City was never more 
strikingly shown than in the famous banquet given in 1899 
to commemorate Jefferson's birthday. The banquet was 
sponsored by the Democratic Club; and, acting on its be- 
half, Croker engaged the Metropolitan Opera House! 

This may seem an absurd proceeding, since the Opera 
House had no cooking facilities. But it merely gave the 
Boss a chance to display his resourcefulness and his power. 
A word from him, and two busy thoroughfares (39th and 
40th Streets, between Broadway and Seventh Avenue) were 
closed to traffic for days. In those streets, improvised 
kitchens were erected and an elaborate dinner for 1 200 cov- 
ers was prepared. 

The banquet was a huge success, especially for Richard 
Croker. At his entrance, the orchestra played Hail to the 
C^ief! and all rose to do him honor. Besides the 1200 
diners on the floor, the boxes were filled with ladies, who 
watched the scene below. 

The main floor was a gorgeous spectacle. Thirty-two 
tables stretched its entire length, and directly under the pro- 
scenium were the two head tables one for the speakers, 
the other for the Executive Committee of Tammany Hall, 
where Richard Croker had the seat of honor. These tables 
were a plain of roses, with tall white storks and graceful 
swans standing like sentinels. At either end were mammoth 
cornucopias pouring forth a profusion of fruits and flowers. 


The banquet was orderly and harmonious, despite the fact 
that the diners drank 6600 quarts o wine, of which 3000 
quarts were champagne. 

The Boss was now enjoying to the full his power and his 
glory. No man, before or since, has ever been so much the 
master of America's metropolis. Not even Tweed attained 
this degree of undisguised authority. A writer of the day 
did not overstate the case when he wrote: " Seeing the powers 
of Croker, one almost believes that not a policeman walks 
his beat in New York City except by his grace 5 not a brick is 
laid on a public or private work that he may not impudently 
tear down if the contractor laying it withholds homage to 
the Bossj that not a wheel turns in any railroad, not a car 
moves up or down an elevator shaft in Greater New York 
but, by expressing an idle caprice, Croker may not stop 
them." 5 

Croker's regal dictatorship, which was a source of pride 
to his admirers and of amused curiosity to the metropolitan 
public, galled other men almost past endurance. As one 
distinguished opponent remarked bitterly: " It Is no mere 
jest when people call Richard Croker the King of the City 
of New York." Q 



THE opening months of the year 1898 were for Richard 
Croker a veritable springtime of political hopes. New op- 
portunities met his gaze, extending to State, and even na- 
tional, horizons. Buttressed by his mastery over America's 
metropolis, what might he not accomplish? 

Croker had left no stone unturned to make his metropoli- 
tan dictatorship secure. While his Mayoralty triumph was 
still fresh and his prestige at its highest, he had concluded 
a series of treaties with Hugh McLaughlin and the minor 
Democratic Bosses of the outlying Boroughs. By giving 
them good terms, Croker had impressed them with his gen- 
erosity; and in return for concessions over patronage they 
had gladly acknowledged him as their suzerain. So long as 
these agreements remained in force, Croker could rest as- 
sured that the Greater New York Democracy would back 
him to any reasonable extent. 

Sure of his home domain, Croker was now free to enter the 
realm of State politics. That, however, required circum- 
spection. " Up-State " was, for the Tiger, a strange land, 
full of pitfalls for the unwary. More than one Tammany 
Boss had explored it, and had come to grief. This, Croker 
knew only too well 5 for he had been Kelly's right-hand man 
and had seen his stalwart chief broken in the attempt. 

Nevertheless, the game was worth the risk. Croker knew 
that the only serious threat to his mastery of New York City 



was from Albany. If he could dominate State and metrop- 
olis/ his rule would be unassailable. And the condition of 
both parties up-State was such as almost to invite his inter- 

The outstanding fact about the up-State Democracy was 
the decadence of the Hill machine. David B. Hill had built 
up the organization. But it was essentially personal, and it 
therefore rose and fell with his own fortunes. Hill was a 
master-politician. Like Platt, he was indifferent to wealth 
or society, his ruling passion being the game of politics. But, 
unlike Platt, Hill had an itch for high office, and he was 
unlucky enough to be badly stung by a " Presidential Bee." 
HilPs intrigues for the nomination failed dismally and cost 
him much of his prestige. Then, at the Democratic National 
Convention of 1896, he had stood forth as the arch-foe of 
Bryanism and had been beaten. The result of these re- 
verses was that he had made dangerous enemies within his 
own party. Though still the leader of the State Democracy, 
there were many waiting their chance to drag him down to 
political oblivion. 

The up-State Republican machine was in equally bad 
shape. Platt's tactics during the recent New .York Mayor- 
alty campaign had landed him in serious trouble. His 
" knifing " of Seth Low had infuriated liberal Republicans 
throughout the State, and his dealings with Croker had 
heightened their anger. The entire liberal wing of the 
Republican Party was in a vengeful mood, ready to chastise 
the " Easy Boss " if opportunity offered. 

Platt was thus in no position to wage aggressive war on 
Croker. In fact, his internal troubles made him disposed 
to prolong his confidential dealings with the New York City 
Boss and to trade favors in an unusually amicable way. 


Croker's path seemed clear. And his immediate objectives 
were obvious: to over-ride or crush Hill, and seat a Tam- 
many nominee in the Governor's chair. The Democrats had 
good prospects of electing a Governor that year. 

Unfortunately for them, they could not reasonably hope 
to win the Legislature. Platt had rendered that almost im- 
possible. Four years previously, he had engineered one of 
the cleverest coups in the annals of American politics. Tak- 
ing advantage of temporary Democratic disorganization, the 
cc Easy Boss " had dominated the Convention held in 1894 
to revise the State Constitution, and had inserted several 
amendments which patently favored the rural districts as 
against the cities and especially the metropolis. With this 
legislative gerrymander safely locked into the Constitution, 
nothing less than a Democratic landslide could wrest the 
Assembly from Republican control. 

Still, the Governorship was worth fighting for. Not un- 
less a good Tammany man presided. at Albany could Croker 
feel reasonably secure from some swift stroke of Platt's, de- 
signed to discredit the Tammany administration of New 
York City as had already happened twice before. 

However, for the moment, Platt's claws were clipped. 
So Croker could concentrate on his plans regarding Hill. 
During the early part of the year, the two Democratic Bosses 
manoeuvred for position in what looked like a fight to a 
finish with Platt hovering about the combatants, appar- 
ently ready to aid Croker if Hill should gain any notable 
advantage. Then the duel was adjourned by the outbreak 
of the Spanish War. The public forgot local politics in the 
heat of war-fever; and Croker, realizing this, decided to 
take a holiday on the British turf. 

By the time Croker returned to America at the end of 


July, the war was over, and an important political event had 
occurred: Theodore Roosevelt was the hero of the hour! 

Before the end of the Strong administration, the former 
Police Commissioner had become the Assistant Secretary of 
the Navy. And when the Spanish War broke out, Roosevelt 
resigned this Federal post to raise his famous regiment of 
" Rough Riders," and to cover himself with glory on the 
Santiago battlefields. 

Already known as a staunch liberal, T. R. appealed 
strongly to the progressive elements in his party, who were 
incensed at Platt and his doings. Consequently, a popular 
cry arose to nominate Roosevelt for Governor or take the 
consequences at the polls. 

This was the news which met Richard Croker as he landed 
in New York, bronzed and jovial. When the reporters told 
him that Roosevelt was almost certain to be the Republican 
candidate in the autumn, Croker asked facetiously: "Has 
he been wounded yet? " And when answered, "No," the 
Boss continued: "Well, I'm afraid he won't do. No man 
is available as a war hero candidate unless he has been 
wounded or killed. Better tell Mr. Roosevelt to get 
wounded." * 

This jocularity, however, was camouflage. In secret, the 
Boss was deeply perturbed at the prospect of Roosevelt's 
candidacy. A keen judge of men, the Tammany chief rec- 
ognized the young Republican's dangerous possibilities. In 
fact, Roosevelt made Croker almost as uneasy as he made 
Platt. Both Bosses saw in Roosevelt that most ominous type 
a reformer who knew the political ropes and who had the 
art of winning the people. Such a man was highly dan- 
gerous to Bosses of every sort. If Platt had had his way, 
Roosevelt would have been frozen out of the political game. 


As it was, " Roosevelt luck " in the shape of a brilliant war- 
record had forced Platt's hand. 

But the Tammany Boss was still to be reckoned with. The 
lengths to which Croker went to prevent Roosevelt's nomina- 
tion are sensationally disclosed by an " inside story " told by 
Chauncey Depew after Croker's death, many years later. 

Mr. Depew (then President of the New York Central 
Railroad) had been asked to make the speech nominating 
Theodore Roosevelt for Governor at the Republican State 
Convention of 1898. The day before the Convention met, 
a prominent Democratic politician came into Depew's office 
and said: " I have a message for you which, personally, I am 
ashamed to deliver. Mr. Croker has sent me to say to you 
that if you make that speech nominating Mr. Roosevelt in 
the Republican Convention, he will resent it on your 

To this ultimatum, Depew retorted: "I know Mr. 
Croker's power and the injury he can do the road. You can 
say to him that I am amazed at such a message coming from 
a man I have always found to be a square fighter, as this is 
a blow below the belt. I am going to make that speech 5 
but before I make it, I shall resign as president and director 
of the New York Central Railroad. And when I put Mr. 
Roosevelt in nomination before the Convention of the State 
of New York, I will say why I resigned." 

Depew's answer was effective, for within an hour the Boss's 
emissary returned to say: " Mr. Croker wishes you to forget 
that message. His own words were : c It is withdrawn. I was 
very badly advised.' " 2 

This bit of secret political history opens the door to fasci- 
nating conjecture. By whom had Croker been " badly ad- 
vised "? Was it Platt? Was this a last joint effort of the 


two Bosses to avert what they felt might be a grave mis- 
fortune to them both? Or had Croker's dictatorial power 
so unleashed his natural arrogance that he forgot his cus- 
tomary caution? Other acts of Croker J s at this period lead 
us to surmise that the Boss was then in a mood betokening 
truculent over-confidence. 

Within his own party, everything tended to feed his self- 
assurance and his pride. When Croker attended the Demo- 
cratic State Convention at Syracuse, he received a tremendous 
ovation. " As the first section of the Tammany train, with 
1500 Braves aboard, entered the city on its way to the station, 
the sidewalks were lined with men and women who cheered 
heartily for Mr. Croker and his army of tigers. He came 
like a conqueror. When he alighted from his parlor car, 
Mayor McGuire's bluecoats cleared a path for him, and with 
uplifted clubs drove the curious away. John F. Carroll 
preceded him to the carriage in waiting, and then the mob 
broke through the police cordon and crowded around the 
chief. In response to a volley of cheers, Mr. Croker doffed 
his hat, the cabman cracked his whip, and then began a 
triumphant gallop to the Yates House. The crowd ran be- 
fore and behind his carriage, and when it reached the Yates 
a great cheer greeted the leader from the throng of delegates 
and sightseers gathered in front of the hotel. Again Carroll 
made way for the chief through the throng, and after per- 
sistent elbowing convoyed him safely to his room." 8 

David B. Hill was already installed at the Yates House, 
and the rival Bosses presently met, face-to-face, in the lobby. 
The throng of politicians waited breathlessly. But, to their 
astonishment, the rivals shook hands and vanished into a 
private parlor, in outwardly amicable conference. 

The truth of the matter was that their mutual friend, 


Edward Murphy, had been busy arranging a formal recon- 
ciliation. He argued that, with so redoubtable an antagonist 
as Theodore Roosevelt in the field, this was no time for fac- 
tional quarrels. Murphy talked sense 5 so "the fight " was 
postponed. When the Convention met next day, all was 
" harmony." 

Croker, however, won his main point: his " man " was 
nominated for Governor. The Democratic candidate was 
Judge Augustus Van Wyck, the brother of New York's 
Mayor, and equally "dependable" in Tammany eyes. 
With one Van Wyck presiding at City Hall and another at 
Albany, Croker would have little to fear. 

As Croker saw the situation, the chances were all in his 
favor. The State Democracy would loyally back the Tam- 
many candidate ; Hill dared not do otherwise. On the other 
hand, the Republican machine had been compelled to take 
Roosevelt 5 so Platt would be lukewarm in his behalf. Fur- 
thermore, Roosevelt would not run well in New York City, 
where memories of his strict enforcement policy as Police 
Commissioner still rankled in many minds. The betting- 
odds were decidedly on Van Wyck. 

Then Croker made the mistake in political tactics which, 
in the course of events, became a blunder of the first magni- 
tude: he refused a renomination to Judge Joseph F. Daly. 
Logically, this had nothing to do with the Governorship} 
but, in practice, it proved to have a great deal. 

Daly, a Tammany Judge, had twice defied the Boss. He 
had declined to appoint a man recommended by Croker for 
clerk of court $ and he had refused to issue a judicial order 
affecting the Boss's real estate interests, even after Croker 
had informed him that it was a " personal matter." 

After this, there was only one thing for the Boss to do: 


"break" Judge Daly! In Croker's eyes, this was merely 
a bit of organization routine. Tammany was founded on 
disciplined obedience. Daly, a Tammany office-holder, had 
flagrantly disobeyed orders. Therefore, Daly must lose his 
job, if Tammany discipline were to be maintained. When 
the newspapers got wind of the affair in mid-October and 
began playing it up, Croker issued this statement, which he 
probably thought would settle the matter: "Justice Daly 
was elected by Tammany Hall after he was discovered by 
Tammany Hall, and Tammany Hall had a right to expect 
proper consideration at his hands." 

Croker rested his case on the time-honored tradition of 
party regularity. But, unluckily for him, Croker had in this 
instance run foul of another time-honored American tradi- 
tion: the independence of the judiciary. An upright judge 
was being "shelved" because he would not do the Boss's 
arbitrary bidding and grant him personal favors. To many 
men, Democrats and Republicans alike, this was intolerable. 

Within a week, the "Daly affair" had become a major 
political issue. On October 21, a mass-meeting was held in 
Carnegie Hall, at which the Boss was held up to public con- 
demnation. The star speaker was none other than Bourke 
Cockran, formerly one of the " Big Four " which had guided 
Tammany after Kelly's death, but who had subsequently 
quarreled with Croker and been thrown out of the or- 

Mr. Cockran had lost none of his " silver-tongued " elo- 
quence. In telling phrases he depicted the Boss's autocratic 
power, and the perils thereof. "By an interview," cried 
Cockran, "he can send the stock of a corporation soaring 
above that mysterious line known as par, or sinking below 
those gloomy levels which evoke spectres of bankruptcy and 


liquidation." After a long survey of the Boss's arbitrary acts, 
the orator ended with a solemn warning that if the judiciary 
fell under Croker's sway, no man in New York City would 
be safe from his displeasure. 

The disastrous Daly affair, as sudden as it was unexpected, 
filled Croker with angry amazement. His mind could not 
grasp the public's mood. How could good Democrats be 
stirred up over what he deemed a justifiable party act? The 
larger aspects of the situation escaped him, trained as he had 
been in the narrow partisan code. 

But to his young Republican adversary, it was a glorious 
opportunity. T. R. knew just how to dramatize the situation 
and drive home the lesson in the popular consciousness. As 
Roosevelt himself said: 

" My object was to make the people understand that it 
was Croker, and not the nominal candidate, who was my real 
opponent j that the choice lay between Crokerism and myself. 
Croker was a powerful and truculent manj the autocrat of 
his organization, and of a domineering nature. For his own 
reasons he insisted upon Tammany's turning down an excel- 
lent Democratic judge who was up for re-election. This 
gave me my chance. Under my attack, Croker, who was a 
stalwart fighting-man and who would not take an attack 
tamely, himself came to the front. I was able to fix the 
contest in the public mind as one between himself and my- 
self 5 and, against all probabilities, I won." 4 

Roosevelt won by the narrowest of margins: a bare 18,000 
votes. In Manhattan, the Tammany machine functioned 
perfectly and rolled up a huge local majority for its candi- 
date. But the other Boroughs did not support Van Wyck 
so well 5 while Roosevelt swept up-State New York. The 
" Rough Rider " rode down to the Bronx with such a tre- 


mendous vote behind him that he just overtopped Van 
Wyck's big metropolitan lead. Theodore Roosevelt had 
been elected the next Governor of the Empire State. 

The Tammany Boss's Albany invasion, like those of his 
predecessors, had failed. And the most serious aspect of 
this failure was that it came about primarily through a revolt 
in his own metropolitan domain. Croker had not merely 
lost his chance to dominate the State 5 he had lost prestige as 
well. A New York newspaper summed up the situation 
when it wrote, the morning after election: " The dream of a 
Crokerized State is shattered. There will be no second Van 
Wyck at Albany to protect the first Van Wyck in New York, 
whatever he may do." 5 

Thus, the year which had opened so brilliantly for 
Richard Croker ended in gloom. Yet his hold on the 
metropolis was still unshaken. His "man" sat in the 
Mayor's chair, and would continue to sit there three years* 
more. Meanwhile, Tammany was making the most of its 
long lease of power. The Tiger was growing fat on patron- 
age and. graft " honest " and otherwise. 

And the Boss was getting his share. 



ON THE wild night of Tammany's triumph, when Man- 
hattan shouted itself hoarse yelling, "To Hell with Re- 
form! " another slogan was heard on every side. That 
slogan was, <^f Wide-o^en ownl 

For three years, New York City had been ruled by a re- 
form administration pledged to the enforcement of laws 
against Sunday liquor-selling, gambling, and vice. That 
administration had been emphatically repudiated at the polls. 
So triumphant Tammany, noting the popular rejoicings, 
proceeded to give the people what they had apparently 
voted for. 

Mayor Van Wyck's appointment of William S. Devery 
as Chief of Police gave due notice that, for the next four 
years, the metropolis would be run on free-and-easy lines. 

" Big Bill " Devery was a brawny product- of " the side- 
walks of New York," who boasted that he had carried his 
father's dinner-pail when the elder Devery was laying the 
bricks of Tammany Hall. Starting as a humble patrolman, 
Bill Devery had worked his way up from the ranks. He 
knew the seamy side of New York life much better than he 
did an open book, and towards it he had the policeman's 
" hard-boiled " attitude. Liquor, gambling, vice were here. 
They were here because people wanted them. They made 
big graft. And the police, who were deputed to look after 



such matters, should get their share of whatever was going 
'round. Big Bill's philosophy was simple. He saw nothing 
wrong with his code. Reformers were ignorant busybodies 
vainly striving to change the inevitable, and therefore mer- 
ited contempt. 

Devery made the orthodox police distinction between 
Vice and C me - Vice was to be tolerated, within recognized 
bounds. Crimes (save when committed by exceptional per- 
sons with a strong political " pull ") should be sternly dealt 
with. The murderer, the burglar, the hold-up man, and 
other offenders against life or property must be hunted 
down and brought to justice. 

To do this, "The Force" must be kept efficient. So 
Devery was a stern disciplinarian. Any patrolman a block 
cc off post " or found by his roundsman fuddled with drink 
would be haled before a the Chief," given a merciless 
tongue-lashing, and heavily "docked" in pay. At such 
times, the big, red-faced man with the bull-neck and the 
stage-policeman's mustache would grow purple with rage. 
His blue-grey eyes would stiffen and gleam until they 
seemed to pierce the very uniform of the trembling patrol- 
man before him, and he would roar forth a storm of pic- 
turesque vituperation starred with oaths and phrases spicier 
than the newspapers dared to print. 1 

Big Bill was a "character"} a joy to every reporter's 
heart. He could always be counted on to give a u line " that 
would be the making of an interview. And Devery adored 
publicity. To him, notoriety was fame the more of it, the 
better. His most treasured possessions were thirty-six big 
scrap-books, filled with press-clippings and cartoons about 
himself and his doings. 

Such was the man whom the new Mayor appointed to look 


after the manners and morals of " Little Old New York." 
Small wonder that, within a year from the time Van Wyck 
took office. New York City was known from coast to coast 
as a very wide-open town. Anybody in search of a " good 
time " was sure to find just what he wanted, with no trouble 
or delay. Sunday thirsts became a dim memory 5 gambling- 
joints flourished openly 3 while the red-lights blazed from 
dusk till dawn. Of course, the law was still there. But, 
with Big Bill Devery Chief of Police and Asa Bird Gardiner 
District Attorney, what were a few statutes between friends? 

A revealing picture of New York life in this wide-open 
period is a survey of its " Underworld " made by Josiah 
Flint, a keen observer of social conditions in his day. Flint, 
who had spent years consorting with tramps and criminals, 
and who knew how to gain their confidence, made an ex- 
tended tour of the city under the competent guidance of a 
" crook " friend of his a little English " Moll-buzzer " 
in polite language, a snatcher of women's handbags and 

Together, they visited many saloons and "joints " which 
were the favorite hangouts of crooks. So. unconventional 
were the antics in some of these places that they shocked the 
Moll-buzzer's moral sense. At length, as they sat in The 
"Slack Rabbitt, a notorious resort on Bleecker Street, the little 
Englishman burst out: "There ain't no use talkin', this is 
dead tough. I wouldn't allow this, 'f I was the Chief ; I'll 
be damned if I would. I like an open town where everything 
goes, but I'd douse the glim here." 

After a thoughtful silence, the Moll-buzzer went on: 
"I'd like to see this town run by thieves once. 'Course 
they'd graft couldn't help it; but not more'n the 
police do." 


Richard Croker was a subject of never-failing interest for 
New York's underworld, which discussed him and his ac- 
tivities quite as intelligently as politicians and newspaper 
men. The crooks well understood his power in the city and 
considered him the chief Mogul. 

Yet the Underworld asserted that, with all his power, the 
Boss could not "scrub out" the grafting conditions which 
then prevailed. "No one, not even Mr. Croker himself, 
was considered powerful enough to order the town shut, and 
enforce the order. One man with whom I talked about this 
matter said: ' Croker might order the town shut, and it 
might stay shut for a night or two; but if the boys thought 
that his Nibs was in earnest, they'd turn him down. Croker 
is Boss on the strength of the understandin' that York is to 
be open and that Tammany is to get the benefit of the police 
graft. If he should go back on his promises to the boys, he 
couldn't remain Boss a week.' " 

Flint's informants placed the ultimate responsibility for 
current conditions squarely at the door of the average citizen. 
The Underworld believed that the people wanted an 
" open " city, and would be the first to complain if it were 
closed. 2 

While Bill Devery " shook down " the vice graft and Tim 
Sullivan syndicated gambling into a closely welded " ring," 
the Boss was making his big profits in Wall Street and 
through his hold over local corporations. It was dangerous 
for even the largest companies to incur the Boss's displeasure, 
as was dramatically shown by the case of one of the great 
public service corporations. 

Late in the year 1898, the municipal authorities began a 
sudden attack on the Manhattan Elevated Railway. Almost 
every branch of the city government took part in this con- 


certed assault. The Health Department declared several 
hundred points on the Elevated structure to be unsafe, and 
served notice that repairs must be made forthwith. The 
Park Department ordered the company to remove its tracks 
from Battery Park immediately, citing an obscure clause in 
the original franchise. The Board of Aldermen threatened 
to pass a series of ordinances which would cost the company 
millions of dollars. 

For a while, the public was mystified at this savage (and 
apparently purposeless) series of blows at the " El." Then, 
on February 5, 1899, "The ZN^ew Tork Evening Tost pub- 
lished " an account of what passed between George Gould 
and Richard Croker, from a source which can be depended 
upon as entirely accurate." 

The account stated that Croker had called upon Mr. 
Gould (the President of the Manhattan Company) and had 
demanded, on behalf of a corporation in which the Boss was 
heavily interested, the privilege of attaching its compressed- 
air pipes to all the Elevated structures. Mr. Gould said 
he would consult his chief engineer as to whether the struc- 
tures would carry the load, and would also ascertain whether 
he had the legal right to grant such permission. 

Thereupon, the Boss had exclaimed: " Oh, hell! I want 
those pipes put on, and I don't want any circumlocution." 
And when Mr. Gould further temporized, Croker added: 
" We want these pipes put on, and we don't want any fuss 
about it." At this point, Mr. Gould retorted: " Under the 
circumstances, Mr. Croker, I will settle the question now, 
without referring it to my officials. We will not permit you 
to attach your pipes to the Elevated structures." Imme- 
diately after this stormy interview, the attack on the Man- 
hattan Company began. 


Croker angrily denied the truth of the story, but there 
seems little doubt that it was correct. Had the account been 
false, Croker would have been clearly entitled to sue the 
Tost for libel which he never did. 

Furthermore, there were rumors in Wall Street that 
Croker, before launching his assault, had sold a big block of 
Manhattan stock " short," and had thereby cleared a large 
profit 5 for the stock went down rapidly as soon as the " El " 
came under fire. Croker was asked about this transaction 
during the Mazet Investigation, but declined to answer, on 
the ground that it was his " private business." 

Croker had thus made a financial "killing" and had 
taught all local corporations a lesson in obedience, at one and 
the same time! 

That was a halcyon epoch for Tammany, when everybody 
connected with the organization, from the Boss and the 
Mayor to ward heelers, was making "easy money." But 
those golden days were interrupted by a chill wind blowing 
from the north. The danger against which Croker had en- 
deavored to provide by electing a Tammany Governor came 
to pass. Albany appointed another Legislative Committee 
to investigate New York's Tammany administration. 

In 1899 the Mazet Committee opened its sessions in New 
York City. For nearly a year, the investigation went on; 
and the enormous mass of testimony, published in five large 
volumes, throws a flood of light on the conditions of the 
period. 3 

The findings of the Mazet Committee were thus sum- 
marized in its majority report: 

" The one clear and distinct fact brought out by this in- 
vestigation is that we have in this great city the most perfect 
instance of centralized government yet known. . . We see 


that government, no longer responsible to the people, but 
to a dictator. We see the central power, not the man who 
sits in the mayor's chair, but the man who stands behind it. 
We see the same arbitrary power dictating appointments, 
directing officials, controlling boards, lecturing members o 
the Legislative and Municipal Assemblies. We see incom- 
petence and arrogance in high places. We see an enormous 
and ever-growing crowd of office-holders with ever-increas- 
ing salaries. We see the powers of government prostituted 
to protect criminals, to demoralize the police, to debauch the 
public conscience, and to turn governmental functions into 
channels for private gain. The proof is conclusive, not that 
the public treasury has been directly robbed, but that great 
opportunities have been given, by manipulation of public 
offices, to enable favored individuals to work for their own 
personal benefit. The enormous increase in the budget of 
the city of New York, the inefficiency and wastefulness in 
the public service, the demoralization of many of the depart- 
ments are due absolutely to this abdication of power by the 
officers of the people to an organization, the ruler of which, 
an autocrat, has testified that he was working for his own 
pocket all the time." * 

The Mazet Investigation made a profound sensation. 
Yet its immediate effect was not what, perhaps, might have 
been expected. Reformers were horrified, and the metro- 
politan press teemed with bitter editorials and biting car- 
toons. But this was "preaching to the converted." The 
Mazet Investigation informed good citizens officially of what 
they already knew through the newspapers or from their 
own personal observation. The metropolitan masses were 
not deeply moved by sensational details of graft and illegal 
practices. The average New Yorker might not approve of 


them 5 but he preferred them to " strict enforcement/ 7 and 
he felt that he could not enjoy forbidden pleasures and have 
civic purity as well. 

Furthermore, the Mazet Investigation, like its predeces- 
sors, was tainted with politics. It had been appointed by 
the Republican machine, and of its seven members only 
two were New York City Democrats. Those two members 
had tried vainly to broaden the scope of the inquiry by 
urging that Platt and other Republican leaders be put on 
the stand which the Republican majority curtly refused 
to do. 

The pair therefore issued a heated minority report, assail- 
ing the Committee's findings as " grossly unfair, conspicu- 
ously partisan, coarse in language, vituperative in temper, 
and absolutely unjustified, except by reckless disregard and 
perversion of the proof adduced." The dissenting report 
ended by stating: " There will always be serious political 
differences dividing our citizenship ; but let us hope there 
will never again be so contemptible an exhibition of the 
depths to which partisan bigotry can descend." 5 

These violently controversial and contradictory reports 
naturally aroused party feeling and tended to discredit the 
majority's findings in Democratic minds. Relying upon 
partisan loyalty, Tammany marched stolidly forward, with 
no perceptible change in administrative policies or methods. 
Mayor Van Wyck publicly lauded Devery as " the best Chief 
of Police New York City ever had "5 while Croker appealed 
to all good Democrats to stand fast against the attacks of 
" a combination of Republican wolves and disappointed 

However, in April 1900, toward the close of its sessions, 
the Mazet Committee unearthed one matter which was 


destined to have momentous political consequences. This 
was the notorious " Ice Trust " scandal. 

The Committee exposed a series of confidential agree- 
ments between the Tammany administration and the Ameri- 
can Ice Company, which gave that Company a practical 
monopoly on the sale of ice in the metropolis. 

The American Ice Company was a consolidation of several 
previously independent concerns, brought about by Charles 
W. Morse, an unscrupulous financier of dubious reputation. 
In order to ensure the combine its monopoly, the Van Wyck 
administration agreed to shut off outside competition by 
giving the company exclusive privileges to land ice at the 
municipal docks. 

And it was further proved that, before this agreement was 
signed, the Company had presented blocks of its stock to 
practically every important Democratic politician in Greater 
New York. All the "big fellows " were in the deal 5 from 
Croker and the Mayor to Hugh McLaughlin, the Brooklyn 
Boss, and some of his friends. The value of these " gifts " 
can be judged by the fact that Mayor Van Wyck's stock, 
alone, was shown to have been worth nearly $700,000, be- 
fore the Mazet Committee's disclosures knocked the bottom 
out of the Ice Trust and sent its shares kiting downward on 
the Stock Exchange. 

The Ice Trust disclosures were the most disastrous blow 
to Tammany since the days of the Tweed Ring. Here was 
something which stirred not only moralists and civic re- 
formers but the common man as well. Ice was a necessity of 
life, even to the poor. And the evidence proved conclusively 
that the result of the new monopoly would have been to 
raise the price of ice in startling" fashion. 

Once more the newspapers came out with scathing edi- 


torials and cartoons. And this time, they struck home. For, 
as spring merged into summer, and heat-waves set the tene- 
ments stewing, the masses realized what had been afoot. 
Tenement mothers hushed crying babies while scanning a 
cartoon of Boss Croker, garbed as a burly iceman and hold- 
ing by the tongs a cake of ice in which a diminutive Van Wyck 
sat congealed. Perspiring workmen reckoned grimly the 
hole which the proposed ice-schedules would have made in 
their wages. 

That hurt and hurt hard. To graft off the rich and 
the pleasure-seekers was one thing ; to graft off the poor was 
quite another. The poor sometimes have long memories. 
The foundation had been laid for an emotional reaction 
against Tammany rule which, given further stimulus, might ' 
sweep the Tiger once more from power. 

The people had begun to murmur. But the next Mayor- 
alty election was more than a year away, and much might 
happen before then. At present, Tammany was in the 
saddle, and could not be unseated. 

As for the Boss, he had other things on his mind. He was 
taking a hand in national politics. 



No PHASE of Richard Croker's career is more dramatic than 
his sudden emergence as a leader in national affairs. During 
the Presidential campaign of 1900, the Tammany Boss 
became one of the great powers in national politics. At 
moments, his burly figure loomed so large that, in the 
Democratic camp, he stood second only to William Jennings 
Bryan, the Presidential candidate. 

Before this, Croker had shown scant desire to play a part 
in the affairs of the nation. His spectacular appearances at 
National Conventions, heading Tammany parades, were 
simply moves in the game of New York City politics, de- 
signed to affirm Tammany's regularity and thus win a tactical 
advantage over factional foes. With Presidential candidates 
and platforms, Croker was not then directly concerned. 
Whatever a Convention should decide 5 that, Tammany 
would loyally support. 

This was Croker's policy until the first Bryan campaign 
of 1896. What his attitude would have been on that occa- 
sion, had he then been active in politics, is problematical. 
Since that campaign was fought during his " exile," Croker 
carefully avoided committing himself, stayed abroad, and 
maintained a sphinx-like neutrality. 

Croker's " Return from Elba " and his extraordinary vic- 
tory of 1897 mark the change in his attitude. Vastly height- 



ened in power and prestige, the triumphant Boss began to 
display an interest in both State and national politics such as 
he had never shown. 

His first attempt to dominate State politics failed when 
Roosevelt defeated Van Wyck for Governor in 1898. But 
the Tammany Boss had failed only by an exceedingly narrow 
margin, and he had clearly established his primacy within 
his own party over his up-State rival, Hill. Croker did not 
deem his defeat final, and showed no signs of abandoning 
his larger plans, in either State or nation. 

Before Croker could play a major role in national politics, 
one thing was vital: he must control the State Democracy. 
In those days, New York, with its big block of electoral votes, 
was the " pivotal State " of the Union. Sure beforehand 
of the " Solid South," the Democrats could always hope to 
elect a President, if they could carry the Empire State 5 
whereas, without it, they stood no chance whatever. So, a 
New York Democrat, if he dominated both State and City 
organizations, could speak at the National Convention with 
an authority that would go far towards determining both the 
choice of the candidate and the drafting of the platform. 
He would stand before his party in the majestic role of War- 
wick, the King-Maker. 

Richard Croker had probably never heard of Warwick. 
But he knew what he wanted, and how to get it. This was 
by crushing David B. Hill. We have seen that, in 1898, 
the rival Bosses had patched up a truce, through the good 
offices of Senator Murphy, their mutual friend. The Sena- 
tor, in fact, occupied a key position in up-State politics, and 
Croker now set out to win Murphy. 

In this, he succeeded. Murphy was bound to Croker by 
warm personal friendship. Between Murphy and Hill, 


there were no such intimate ties. In fact. Hill had no real 
friends. Cold, aloof, and cynical, the up-State Boss com- 
manded men's allegiance by self-interest, not by affection. 
The struggle between Hill and Croker reached its climax 
during the autumn of 1899. Before the campaign began, a 
meeting of the Democratic State Committee was called at the 
Hoffman House, in New York City. Croker, master of the 
situation, sat on one side of the conference-room, flanked 
by Senator Murphy and by Patrick McCarren of Brooklyn, 
avowedly Croker's allies. Across the room sat Hill, almost 
alone. Croker ran the meeting with a high hand. He 
sneered openly at Hill's angry protests and vociferous ob- 
jections. Hill was beaten at every point. 

When the meeting was over, the up-State Boss, broken 
and dispirited, made no attempt to conceal his defeat. " The 
inevitable has happened," he said wearily to the waiting 
reporters. " The City has at last dominated the State. The 
State organization has been Tammanyized." 

The reaction of Croker's victory on national politics was 
self-evident. Indeed, at this same meeting, the Tammany 
Boss took a definite stand on national issues. Though the 
Presidential campaign was still a year away, he committed 
the State organization to a declaration favoring Bryan's 
renomination. This stand of Croker's was the culmination 
of a curious series of events. It was literally a political 
somersault, which mystified many observers at the time. 

Croker had been personally neutral during Bryan's first 
campaign in 1 8 96. But Tammany had not been neutral. It 
had fought Bryan's nomination in the National Convention, 
and its thinly disguised hostility during the ensuing cam- 
paign had caused New York City to go Republican. Nearly 
all the big Tammany men were "Gold Democrats" at 


heart, precisely like Hill and the other conservative Demo- 
crats of the Eastern States. 

When Croker began to take an active interest in national 
politics, therefore, he was half-committed against Bryan. 
And, until the late summer of 1899, he stood with most of 
his colleagues, on the conservative side. Indeed, when he 
sailed for England in April of that same year, he gave out 
a press interview which apparently aligned him definitely 
with the anti-Bryan group. In that interview, Croker stated: 
" The time has gone by when the Democrats can accept the 
doctrine of 16 to I. I feel sure that the Democratic Party 
will nominate some one else as their candidate in the next 
Presidential campaign." 

In August, Croker returned to America and promptly 
staggered even hardened reporters by calling Bryan "a 
great leader " and stating that Free Silver was a complicated 
matter which ought to be left for Congress to decide. A 
lightning change had taken place in less than four months 
abroad, seemingly on a racing holiday! 

Croker's " 'bout face " was the political talk of the town. 
Yet he refused to enlighten persistent inquirers concerning 
the reasons for his new stand. " Those are my views," he 
said stolidly, when interviewed next day at the Democratic 
Club. " I have nothing to add or retract." He hedged only 
when asked point-blank about his attitude toward Bryan's 
renomination. Here he was enigmatic: " I have not declared 
for Mr. Bryan. I am committed to no one." Yet, a few 
weeks later, Croker aimed the crushing blow at Hill by get- 
ting the Democratic State Committee to favor Bryan's 

What was the secret of Croker's amazingly rapid change 
of front? We believe it was due to two strangely contrasted 


reasons: (i) his ability to sense the popular trend in New 
York City; (2) his inability to appraise the broader tide of 
thought and feeling in State and nation. 

Richard Croker was a superlatively shrewd judge of local 
public opinion. So quick was he to detect a shift in senti- 
ment that he realized what was in the wind before other 
politicians knew that something was astir. Only on rare 
occasions, as in the Ice Trust scandal, did Croker run foul 
of the metropolitan masses the basis of Tammany's power. 

During the summer of 1899, the Boss seems to have con- 
cluded that the popular trend in the metropolis was setting 
strongly towards Bryan. Even in his first campaign, Bryan 
had awakened considerable New York support. But at that 
time he was a stranger to most Easterners, and the intensive 
propaganda of his enemies (Gold Democrats as well as Re- 
publicans) had succeeded in arousing popular fear of him- 
self and his ideas. 

As time passed, however, Bryan's insistent championship 
of " the plain people,*' and his eloquent indictments of 
wealth and privilege, had their effect. Tammany itself 
was threatened with trouble, for the conservative-minded 
leaders were being confronted by an increasing Bryanward 
swing in the ranks. 

Of all this, Croker was well aware. While in England, 
his secret agents advised him of each new development. His 
very remoteness from the scene of action possibly sharpened 
his perception. At all events, he returned to New- York at 
the end of August with his mind virtually made up to go 
with the popular tide. Perhaps the fact that his rival, Hill, 
was irreconcilably hostile to Bryan helped his decision. 

That decision once made, Croker threw himself heart and 
soul on Bryan's side. In the decisive battle at the National 


Convention of 1900, the Tammany Boss was the most con- 
spicuous figure, next to Bryan himself. Croker it was who 
sent down to humiliating defeat the Eastern conservatives, 
headed by Hill 5 and it was Croker, again, who inserted the 
Free Silver plank, which might otherwise have been kept 
out of the Democratic platform. 

Richard Croker was thus pledged to Bryan unreservedly. 
In racing parlance, he was sure his horse would win, and 
backed it for all he was worth. The stakes warranted it. 
Bryan was so indebted to Croker that, if he won the Presi- 
dential race, there were almost no limits to what the Tam- 
many Boss might expect as his just due. On the other hand, 
if Bryan lost the race, Croker would be out of national 
politics, and would be gravely threatened in his own domain 
as well. 

How was it that Croker threw his wonted caution to the 
winds and " backed the wrong horse " to the limit? The 
wisest political prophets were then predicting that Bryan 
had even less chance of winning than he had four years 

After the election, Croker tried to justify himself by in- 
timating that the popular demand within Tammany itself 
had forced him to back Bryan. One of his friends cites a 
campaign anecdote to prove this. On the night of Bryan's 
whirlwind tour of the metropolis, shortly before election, 
the Boss pointed to the frenzied crowds acclaiming "The 
Great Commoner," and said: " If I had not come out for 
Bryan, the rank-and-file would have taken Tammany away 
from me." * 

Yet this is not an adequate explanation. Croker was too 
canny not to have known how to cover his line of retreat, 
if he had had his doubts. He would never have thus com- 


mitted himself unless he had been sure of victory. It was 
a sublime ignorance of national affairs which betrayed one 
whose knowledge of local politics had no superior. 

Croker's ignorance, not merely of national issues, but of 
the ideas and culture of his time, was colossal. This half- 
illiterate dictator of America's metropolis, who could scarcely 
speak grammatical English and who rarely read a book, was 
simply unaware of nearly everything outside his sphere. 
Now and then, he would reveal his intellectual shortcomings 
by some remark that would astound his hearers. During the 
second Bryan campaign, Croker, after listening to a heated 
controversy between some friends of his over Free Silver, 
broke in impatiently: "What's the use of discussing what's 
the best kind of money? Fm in favor of all kinds of money 
the more the better! " 2 Obviously, economics were not 
in Croker's line. 

Even in the field of national politics y in the restricted sense 
of the word, Croker more than once betrayed a ludicrous 
lack of the most elementary knowledge. A striking instance 
of this occurred during the winter of 1898, when a number 
of prominent Democrats, including the famous Kentuckian, 
Henry Watterson, were discussing Presidential possibilities 
at the Democratic Club. Admiral Dewey had just refused 
to be a candidate, and this " had a rather gloomy effect upon 
all present, except Croker. c I'm glad he won't run,' said 
Croker, to the astonishment of his guests. c I have a much 
better candidate a man who will suit the Southern Demo- 
crats.' c Who is it? ' asked Colonel Watterson. c Who is it? ' 
c General Nelson A. Miles,' said Croker, with a self-satisfied 
air. 'Good heavens!' shouted Watterson. 'Man alive, 
don't you know that Miles is the man who put the shackles 
on Jefferson Davis? ' At this time, Croker was absolutely 


ignorant of American history or the biography of our lead- 
ing statesmen." 3 

While the Presidential race was on, Croker enjoyed him- 
self to the full. Never had he appeared more buoyantly 
self-confident than he did at the height of this campaign. 

First of all, he methodically crushed opposition to his 
supremacy in New York State. The liberal elements in the 
State Democracy were backing a likely aspirant for the 
Governorship $ a young man who was making a brilliant 
record as Comptroller of New York City Bird S. Coler. 
But his record had made powerful enemies. Though elected 
on the Van Wyck Mayoralty ticket, the young Comptroller 
had shown his independence, had blocked several political 
" grabs," and had recently capped the climax by writing an 
article for a leading magazine, 4 which severely criticized the 
Boss and his political code. Thenceforth, the Comptroller 
was on Croker's blacklist 5 and when David B. Hill came 
out for Coler's candidacy, the irate Boss was doubly de- 
termined to block the young man's nomination. 

Shortly before the State Convention, Hill and Croker en- 
gaged in as bitter an exchange of personalities as New York 
politics had seen in a long time. On Labor Day, the up- 
State leader delivered a speech at Troy, in which he de- 
nounced " political bossism, ignorant, corrupt, and arrogant, 
which tolerates no criticism, knows no prudence, and accepts 
no suggestions 5 which first dominates wards, then cities, and 
afterwards reaches out for the control of States, and governs 
its cringing sycophants through patronage and the cohesive 
power of public plunder." 

Hill's scathing words, so obviously aimed at the Tammany 
Boss, sent Croker into a towering rage. Standing in the 
lobby of the Hoffman House, he growled to the assembled 


reporters: "Did you read Hill's speech at Troy? Well, 
Hill attacked me indirectly. That's his way of doing busi- 
ness. Hill never comes out in the open. He always hides 
behind something, and leaves a loophole to crawl out of. 
He is deceitful, tricky, and couldn't tell the truth if he 
wanted to. He is a picayune politician, a peanut politician, 
and he wouldn't be a district captain if he lived in New 
York City. Tammany Hall wouldn't have a deceitful, un- 
truthful sneak like c Dave ' Hill in the organization. And 
Coler is just like Hill. He did the same in his article." 
After this tirade, the Boss thrust his hands deep into his 
trousers pocket and paced the hotel lobby, infuriated. 5 

A week later, the angry Boss had his revenge. At the 
State Convention, Croker rode rough-shod over Hill and 
the liberal opposition, decisively defeated Coler, and nomi- 
nated his own candidate, a machine hack named Stanchfield. 

Croker's ruthless tactics and his nomination of a weak 
candidate to satisfy his own personal grudges evoked a 
chorus of indignant protest from his own party, which should 
have made him reflect. The leading Democratic organs in 
New York City criticized Stanchfield's nomination in no 
uncertain terms. The World asserted: ".The prospect of a 
Crokerized State is a deadly weight which no enthusiasm for 
Bryan can overcome." Up-State Democratic newspapers 
were even sharper in tone. The Slmira Qazette went so 
far as to say: " It is time to beat certain facts into the hard 
head of Richard Croker. It should be pounded into his 
cranium that the rural vote is stampeded by too much Croker. 
Voters throw down their hats and flee in terror even into 
Tom Platt's camp." Far beyond the boundaries of the State, 
leading Democratic papers took flings at the Tammany Boss 
and his doings. The ${asbville ^American, voicing Southern 


sentiment, wrote: " Croker may be able to control New York 
and hold Hugh McLaughlin in line, in his fight on Colerj 
but he is not going to convince the Democracy of the nation 
that he is anything more than a vulgar, ignorant, overbearing 
political charlatan who cares nothing for parties or politics 
except as it may profit him." 6 

Perhaps it was this swelling chorus of disapproval 5 per- 
haps a dawning suspicion that all was not well with Bryan's 
Presidential prospects, which soured Croker's temper and 
made him increasingly irritable as the campaign drew toward 
its close. The fact itself was so evident that veteran news- 
paper men remarked upon it, contrasting the Boss's angry 
loquacity with the grim humor or grimmer silence of former 

Early in October, Croker seized upon Mark Hanna's sar- 
castic comment that Croker was " Emperor of New York 
City, 35 to exclaim: " Called me emperor, did he? I only 
wish I was emperor for a while. I'd make Hanna and his 
gang step around lively." And Croker paid his respects 
to Theodore Roosevelt by saying: " Look at that wild man 
the Republicans have nominated for Vice-President. He's 
going screeching over the country, bellowing about the Ice 
Trust." 7 

By the last days of the campaign, Croker was plainly wor- 
ried, and in a surly mood. It was then that he gave out the 
famous interview, so often cited, in which he declared hotly 
that Bryan would be the next President of the United States 
unless the Republicans stole the election, and then went on: 
" I advise all Democrats to go to the polling places on elec- 
tion night, count noses, and see that they get counted. If 
the vote doesn't tally, let them go in, pull out the fellows 
in charge, and stand them on their heads. I want you to 


print this " Croker concluded, shaking his finger at the 
reporters. 8 

As a matter of fact, that same day, Chief Devery issued a 
provocative order which hinted at police partisanship at the 
polls. Governor Roosevelt promptly wired Mayor Van 
Wyck that he would be held responsible for any election dis- 
orders which might occur. Thereupon, Devery's order was 
rescinded, and the election passed off quietly in the metropo- 
lis. Bryan carried New York City handsomely, but the 
State and nation went heavily for McKinley and Roosevelt. 
For the second time, "The Great Commoner" had been 
badly beaten. 

Croker's "favorite" had lost the race! He had backed 
the wrong horse, and must now pay the forfeit. 



WHEN Richard Croker surveyed his political prospects the 
morning after Bryan's defeat, the horizon of his future was 
dark with gathering clouds. His dream of national leader- 
ship was hopelessly shattered. His control of the State 
Democracy was gravely compromised. Most serious of all, 
his grip on the metropolis was shaken 5 for New York echoed 
to the stir of mustering foes. Nowhere could the Tam- 
many Boss discern signs of cheer. 

Of course, the docile Van Wyck was still Mayor, and the 
city government was staffed by his henchmen. But the 
sands of the Van Wyck administration were running low. 
Just one year hence, a Mayoralty election was due; and the 
present regime was becoming increasingly discredited. The 
Ice Trust scandal had been merely the most glaring of a 
series which clearly revealed the extravagance, inefficiency, 
and graft entrenched at City Hall. The sensational ex- 
posures of the Mazet Committee had not only roused re- 
formers to fresh activity but had also given New York much 
bad publicity. Substantial business men, hitherto indifferent, 
had come to fear for the city's continued prosperity and were 
convinced that a municipal overhauling was needed. Lastly, 
the masses, disgruntled by the Ice Trust, were further stirred 
by the prevalence of commercialized vice and organized 
crime, which in many ways bore hard on the home life of 



the self-respecting poor. The omens thus portended a civic 
awakening in the campaign of 1901, much like that of 1894, 
which had driven Tammany from power. 

The reform forces began their attack without delay. Im- 
mediately after the Presidential election, a group of in- 
fluential citizens, headed by the Episcopal Bishop of New 
York, wrote an " open letter " to the Mayor, denouncing 
the vice and crime which was rampant on the East Side, and 
backing up their assertions by specific evidence which in- 
volved both the Police Department and Tammany notables. 

Other complaints of a similar nature had been previously 
made, with no tangible effect. Now, however, matters were 
different. New York was astir with discontent, and Bishop 
Potter's open letter to Van Wyck evoked a salvo of applause 
from the public. 

No one knew better than Richard Croker that the political 
atmosphere was changed. Tammany, thrown on the de- 
fensive, must take precautions. And the Boss knew that 
the most effective tactics would be a counter-move against 
vice. Were Tammany to take a positive step towards clean- 
ing up the scandalous conditions which had aroused the moral 
sentiment of the community, it would tend to quiet popular 
excitement and at least partially parry the reformers' keen- 
edged thrust. 

Accordingly, less than a week after Bishop Potter's letter, 
Croker appointed a Committee of five well-known Tam- 
many men, headed by Lewis Nixon, to investigate and re- 
port upon the vice situation. 

New York was agog at the news that Tammany had ap- 
parently started in to "clean house." Many persons, of 
course, dismissed the announcement with a cynical smile, as 
being sheer bluff. Yet certain aspects of Croker's surprising 


move made his " Reform " Committee appear sincere. The 
Chairmanship of Lewis Nixon was evidence that the Com- 
mittee intended to do some real investigating. Mr. Nixon 
belonged to the " kid glove " wing of Tammany Hall. A 
Virginian by birth, and a graduate of Annapolis, he was a 
man of wealth, education, and good standing, who would 
not allow himself to be made ridiculous as the dummy head 
of a Committee appointed solely for " whitewashing " pur- 

Croker himself had instructed his " Committee of Five " 
to report their findings fearlessly. Furthermore, at a meet- 
ing of district leaders, he had stated in vigorous language 
that if conditions were actually as black as they were painted, 
they must be bettered at once. When, at this point, mur- 
murs broke forth and one man, bolder than the rest, asserted 
that nothing effectively could be done, Croker bounded from 
his chair, strode over to the man, and shouted in his face: 
"You say you don't know what you can do? What you 
want to do is to act, and try to do something, anyway. You 
can't stop it, you say. If you do nothing except say what 
you can't do, you can never stop anything. But if the people 
find anything is wrong, you be sure that the people can put 
a stop to it, and will! " 1 

This angry outburst gives the key to Croker's sudden re- 
forming zeal. The grizzled veteran, who had witnessed the 
fall of Tweed and who had himself bowed low beneath the 
political typhoon of 1894., had read the signs aright. He 
knew that only drastic measures could save Tammany from 
defeat the following year. The evidence, therefore, clearly 
indicates that Croker fiad resolved to abate the worst aspects 
of commercialized vice, and that his Committee was a genu- 
ine first step along this line. 


But the Boss was now to learn the distinct limits to his 
autocratic power j for he was soon faced with opposition in 
Tammany itself. So sullenly determined was resistance to 
his commands that it taxed his strength to the utmost, and 
even threatened his throne. 

The reasons for this are not far to seek. The Boss was 
rich, and was full of years and honors. But there were 
other leaders in the organization who had not yet " made 
their pile," and who, regardless of Mayoralty prospects, were 
still " working for their own pockets all the time." To those 
leaders, the tribute gathered from " protected " vice and 
crime was the main source, alike of their wealth and of their 
power. They proposed, therefore, to fight "reform," of 
any brand. If this hurt Tammany's chances in the future, 
it was just too bad} but they intended to " get theirs " while 
the getting was good. And the head of this unregenerate 
faction was " Big Tim " Sullivan. 

Big Tim (otherwise known as " Dry Dollar " Sullivan, 
and " The Big Feller ") was a dangerous foe to whoever 
crossed his path. For, despite certain genial qualities, Tim 
Sullivan typified all that was worst in Tammany Hall. The 
story of his rise from slum squalor to the overlordship 
of the East Side is a picaresque romance of debased 

Born in an East Side tenement during the Civil War, 
Tim began his career at the age of eight, selling newspapers. 
That he had a keen eye to the main chance is shown by the 
boyhood anecdote which gained him his nickname, "Dry 
Dollar." One day, Tim was discovered back of a saloon, 
drying off the big green revenue-stamp which had been 
affixed to a brewery keg, under the fond impression that it 
was a dollar bill! 


Young Sullivan entered politics early, and affiliated him- 
self with the "Whyo Gang," one o the most desperate 
criminal organizations of the day. Largely through its in- 
fluence, Sullivan was elected to the Legislature, on an anti- 
Tammany ticket, when only twenty-three years old. 

At Albany, Sullivan met Tom Foley, an East Side Tam- 
many leader 5 and Foley, noting the young man's aggressive 
ability, induced him to join the organization. Thereafter, 
Sullivan rose rapidly in politics, and in 1890, Croker made 
him leader of the Bowery district, just north of his old 
bailiwick, the Five Points. 

Croker put Tim in charge there, to handle a perplexing 
situation. The Bowery district comprised not merely that 
notorious thoroughfare but also a large tenement area which 
had recently been overrun by the newer immigrant stocks, 
especially Jews and Italians. These new groups were be- 
ginning to worry Tammany, because it found them hard to 
manage. Tammany could handle the Irish to perfection, 
and the Germans fairly well 5 but the average old " leather- 
neck " district leader was too set in his ways to manage folk 
he did not in the least understand. A younger man with 
a more flexible mind was needed, and the Boss picked Tim 
Sullivan as just the lad for the job. 

Croker had chosen well, for the new leader took the 
situation in hand with consummate skill. Both the Bowery 
itself and the adjacent tenement neighborhoods, though 
presenting widely different problems, were admirably ad- 
ministered from Tammany's point of view. 

The Bowery, when Tim Sullivan took charge, was not 
a flourishing Tammany district. It was a region of cheap 
amusement resorts and cheaper lodging-houses inhabited by 
a transient population of vagrants, petty criminals, and casual 


laborers. Few of these men were registered voters or had 
any interest in politics. 

Tim Sullivan took in the situation at a glance. Here were 
thousands of potential votes going to waste! Tim soon 
remedied that. The lodging-houses were so " fixed " that 
they regularly voted every roomer and often more be- 
sides. Even the outer fringe of bums and bar-room loafers 
were trained into fairly dependable "repeaters." By the 
mid-nineties, the Bowery was Tammany's banner district. 
So close-knit was Big Tim's organization that when, in the 
Presidential election of 1892, one of his precincts turned in 
388 Democratic and 4 Republican votes, he reported to 
Croker: " Harrison got one more vote than I expected there, 
but I'll find that feller! " 

Big Tim achieved these striking results by a judicious 
blend of generosity and terrorism. To either of these poli- 
cies there were practically no bounds. In the awe-struck 
eyes of his Neapolitan and Sicilian subjects, "The Big Fel- 
ler " appeared alternately in the guise of patron saint and 
implacable chief of the Mafia. 

Tim certainly knew his Italians. The political jollifica- 
tions in " Little Italy " rivalled its religious festas. On such 
occasions the whole district would be draped in bunting, glow 
with electric lights, and glare with red fire. There would 
be parades in which, amid a blaze of rockets and Roman 
candles, and to admiring cheers from wives and sweethearts, 
the embattled Italian- Americans would march in serried bat- 
talions led by precinct captains astride fat brewery-truck 
chargers, and would proudly salute their liege-lord as he 
stood, big and jovial, in the reviewing-stand. 2 Also, for 
the faithful there was largesse unfailing free coal, free 
ice, wondrous outings, and municipal jobs. As for the dis- 


loyal they soon found it wise, for their business and even 
for their health, to " move out of the ward." 

The Jews were not so easy to manage. Their political 
independence was proverbial. They liked to do their own 
thinking, and were sometimes stampeded by strange en- 
thusiasms. One could never be sure that they would " stay 
fixed." Bred to persecution, they were liable to be stubborn, 
even under threats. Yet " The Big Feller " usually had his 
way with this " stiff-necked " folk. For chronic recalcitrants, 
he had his corps of professional gunmen. 

Big Tim's mobilization of all the vicious and criminal 
elements of the lower East Side into a standing army, regu- 
larly employed for terrorism and wholesale repeating, in 
return for political "protection," was the special feature 
of his rule. Isaiah Rynders would have risen from his 
grave in sheer admiration, could he have seen how his 
amateurish efforts in this same region had been surpassed 
by his talented successor. Nothing approaching it had 
ever been seen before at least, not in Little Old New 

" The Big Feller's " standing army was organized into 
three grand divisions: the gamblers, the pimps, and the 
thieves. And this " army " was amazingly numerous. The 
number of gamblers, alone, in New York City was then 
estimated at nearly 10,000. Over the entire gambling fra- 
ternity, Tim's sway was absolute; for one of his choicest 
" grafts " came through his headship of the a gambling 
ring " which he had organized. 

As for the pimps, they were legion. These human leeches 
(mostly young Italians and Jews) specialized in recruiting 
for the Red-Light Districts of the Bowery and the Tender- 
loin, their victims being mostly young girls of their ac- 


quaintance from the tenements wherein they themselves had 
been reared. Recruiting-sergeants for commercialized vice, 
they were aptly termed Red-Light Cadets. These wretches 
were a terror to every tenement home 5 and since the Cadets 
enjoyed political protection, bereaved parents could seldom 
obtain redress. Their depredations filled the hearts of num- 
berless humble folk with suppressed wrath which was to be 
unleashed in the political uprising of 1901. 

Less sordid, but more sinister, was the mobilization of 
thieves and thugs. At this stage, the old-time gangs of 
Croker's youth had almost passed away, and the name itself 
was being applied to much smaller, purely criminal groups, 
known among themselves as " mobs." In the late eighties, a 
young East Side Irish thug arose, whose organizing genius 
entitles him to rank as the master-criminal of his age. His 
name was " Monk " Eastman, and he swiftly welded the 
East Side " mobs " into a loose yet efficient federation 5 with 
diversified " rackets," all under the direction of their " Big 

Tim Sullivan did not overlook so potentially valuable an 
instrument of political domination. Therefore, Monk and 
Big Tim came to an understanding. By the terms of their 
compact, the super-gangster's thugs could be depended upon 
to act as " shock troops " for the district leader's political 
needs, while Monk was assured of protection (within limits) 
for himself and his followers. And Monk's " regulars " 
amply proved their worth by yeoman service at the polling- 
booths and in other ways. 3 

Those were the bases of Big Tim's power. And that 
power stretched far beyond his own district; for "The Big 
Feller" proved as apt at diplomacy as at administration. 
By a series of alliances, he bound several neighboring dis- 


trict leaders to his cause. Furthermore, he had secret sup- 
porters throughout Manhattan, since he was the natural 
champion of every corrupt politician, indifferent to every- 
thing save personal gain. 

By the late nineties, Big Tim had established a veritable 
vice and crime empire, controlling most of the city south 
of 1 4th Street j or, as the Underworld put it, "below de 

So ambitious and self-willed a personage as Tim Sullivan 
could not fail ultimately to match his strength against the 
Boss. Indeed, from the moment that Sullivan got his dis- 
trict in hand, he openly resented any outside dictation. Even 
before Croker's " retirement " in 1894, he and Tim Sullivan 
had more than one tense moment, and during the Boss's 
exile, Sullivan had headed a conspiracy which aimed at 
Croker's overthrow. Then came that dramatic "show- 
down " at Tammany Hall, when the Boss's iron will made 
even "The Big Feller" quail before him. 

But the overlord of the East Side went unpunished for 
his disloyalty, and throve mightily during the ensuing years 
of Tammany rule. As the Van Wyck administration 
neared its close, Tim Sullivan was more redoubtable than 
ever before. 

This was the man whom the Boss, by his "Reform" 
Committee, had defied. For it was plain that if East Side 
vice and crime were to be sharply curbed, Big Tim's treasury 
would be depleted and his power undermined. 

Sullivan warned his chief deliberately and fairly. Scarcely 
had the Committee of Five been appointed than Big Tim 
called on Croker. " Boss," he said, looking Croker squarely 
in the eye, " Boss, them fellers have got to stay out of my 
district, or there'll be trouble." And " them fellers " stayed 


out. Mr. Nixon and his colleagues did not include the 
Bowery in their vice tour. 

Big Tim was not Croker's only visitor. Other leaders 
came to express their disapproval. " Is this a bluff? " one 
of them asked Croker, " or is it on the level? " cc It's on 
the level," replied Croker. "Well," exclaimed his caller 
disgustedly, "if it's on the level, just count me out of this. 
I won't have anything to do with it, and I think it will do 
us more hurt than good." 4 

Tammany Hall was buzzing like an angry hive when the 
Boss announced that he was off for England on his annual 
vacation. Several of his intimates besought him to stay on 
the job$ but Croker answered that he was fagged out and 
must have rest and change of scene if he was to be in form 
for the Mayoralty campaign the following autumn. The 
bitter disappointment of Bryan's defeat and the anxieties 
crowding thick upon him had undoubtedly taken their toll. 
When he sailed, late in November, the reporters noted that 
he looked far from well. 

From his English country seat, the Boss watched and 
cursed Tim Sullivan and the vice cabal. For Tammany's 
external foes were rapidly gathering strength for their attack. 
Three distinct groups (the non-partisan Reformers, the Re- 
publicans, and the anti-Tammany Democrats), though not 
yet formally allied, were working amicably together for the 
same objective Tammany's overthrow. 

The first blow was delivered by Theodore Roosevelt. Al- 
though elected Vice-President of the United States in the 
recent campaign, Roosevelt would be Governor of New York 
State until his term expired at the end of the year. One 
of Governor Roosevelt's last official acts was an executive 
order issued late in December, removing Asa Bird Gardiner 


as District Attorney for gross neglect of duty and appointing 
in his stead Eugene A. Philbin, an independent Democrat 
of excellent reputation. Mr. Philbin promptly cleaned out 
the District Attorney's office by discharging Gardiner's as- 
sistants and replacing them with men of his own kind. 

Governor Roosevelt had struck shrewdly, both at the 
Van Wyck administration and at Tim, Sullivan's vice ring. 
So long as Gardiner was District Attorney and Devery was 
Chief of Police, they could play into each other's hands and 
render law enforcement a joke. Now, however, the legal 
end of this precious combination was out; for the new Dis- 
trict Attorney was eager to proceed against prostitution 
and gambling. Also, Mr. Nixon and his colleagues could 
prove their sincerity, because they could lay information 
with the District Attorney's office which would be acted 
upon. ' 

A second blow against Tammany came in February, 1901, 
when the Republican Legislature ousted Devery by the 
simple expedient of abolishing the office of Chief of Police. 
And, besides this, District Attorney Philbin ordered a series 
of sensational raids against gambling establishments, appar- 
ently inspired by Nixon's Committee of Five. 

That was flat defiance of Big Tim Sullivan. And Big 
Tim was not slow to take up the challenge. The wrath of 
" The Big Feller " knew no bounds. He had long hated 
Nixon, and now publicly denounced him as a " kid-glove 
carpet-bagger " and an interloper in Tammany Hall. 

Other leaders of " vice districts," likewise threatened in 
their prerogatives, followed Big Tim's lead. One irate 
leader, after sneering at Nixon's Committee as " The Farcical 
Five," said sarcastically to a reporter: " Say, I'd like to get 
out of politics, but I ain't going to be driven out. I'm a re- 


former now, like all the rest. Why, I had a diamond stud 
that flashed a red light, an' I gave it away! " 5 

Big Tim was out for blood. He cabled Croker that Nixon 
must go, and that Devery must, somehow, be reinstated. 
Meanwhile, Devery was growling threats that, if "let 
down," he would " spill the beans " and start a scandal that 
would rock Tammany Hall to its foundations. 

Croker was in a sad quandary. If he let Sullivan have his 
way, he would lose prestige and his grip on the organization. 
If Nixon's investigation was called off, all hope of allaying 
popular discontent might as well be abandoned. As for 
Devery 5 the Boss's political intuition told him that this 
brutal braggart, with his continual " wisecracks " and his 
naive defiance to respectability, would be just the "heavy 
villain " the reformers needed to dramatize the issue before 
the public in the coming campaign. 

On the other hand, Big Tim meant business. His threats 
were no idle boasts. He had warned the Boss frankly that 
if Tammany was going into the reforming game, the power- 
ful vice and gambling interests would refuse to " loosen up " 
when the hat was passed around for the campaign fund. In- 
deed, Big Tim went so far as to intimate that, under certain 
circumstances, " the interests " might knife Tammany at the 
polls. And such defections would spell almost certain de- 
feat for the Tammany ticket, in any event. 

^Furthermore, Croker's Boss-ship itself was imperilled by 
his present attitude. For the moment, the vice cabal was a 
minority, since Tim Sullivan could not count absolutely upon 
more than ten or a dozen district leaders, while the Boss 
had more than that number pledged to follow him through 
thick and thin. But there were still other leaders, who de- 
plored the situation and whose object was to save Tammany 


from the disaster which a factional war on the eve of a 
Mayoralty campaign would entail. If Croker stuck to his 
guns, and thereby split Tammany wide open, might not these 
moderates join the Sullivan faction to depose Croker, on the 
understanding that a neutral should be elected Boss, who 
would restore "harmony" and give Tammany a fighting 

The Boss thus wrestled with a dilemma that looked bad, 
whichever way he might decide. Croker chose what he 
doubtless considered the lesser of two evils: he bowed to 
Big Tim's ultimatum. The proof of this was Van Wyck's 
appointment of Devery as " Deputy " Police Commissioner. 

The Sullivan crowd was jubilant, while Lewis Nixon was 
proportionately incensed. First learning of Devery's ap- 
pointment through the newspapers, Mr. Nixon characterized 
it as " a shame and an outrage." " These people," he went 
o,n, obviously referring to Big Tim and his associates, " are 
capable of anything." 6 

Mr. Nixon at once cabled the Boss, and when Croker 
cabled back confirming the fact, Nixon knew that he had 
been " let down." So, two days later, " The Farcical Five " 
turned in a " Final Report " (not published) to the Execu- 
tive Committee of Tammany Hall, and went out of business. 
The Boss's role of " practical reformer " was definitely at 
an end. 

The effect of this backdown on public opinion was pre- 
cisely what could have been foreseen. The reformers cried: 
a I told you so! " and denounced Tammany, not merely as 
an unrepentant sinner but as an arrant hypocrite. 

Still more serious was the marshalling of anti-Tammany 
Democrats into a compact organization. In mid-April a 
rousing mass-meeting, held at Carnegie Hall, launched the 


" Greater New York Democracy." At that meeting there 
were progressive Democrats like Bird S. Coler, old-line 
Democrats like Matthew S. Breen, and, of course, all Croker's 
personal foes, ex-Tammany men, some of whom had been 
waiting many years for revenge. 

" Down with Croker! " was the slogan. Mr. Breen 
struck the key-note when he stated: " Tammany HalPs au- 
thority rests very lightly upon the Democrats of the Bronx, 
where I live, and upon the other Boroughs outside of Man- 
hattan. There are thousands of honest Democrats who 
are sick and tired of being led around by the nose by 
Mr. Croker." 

The Squire of Wantage must have been in a grim mood 
as he silently made ready to return and face the inevitable. 



THE thick-set, scrubby-bearded man who landed in Man- 
hattan one September afternoon was the Richard Croker of 
former days. Grim and reticent, he refused to be inter- 
viewed. "Nothing to say, boys! " was his laconic greeting 
to the eager newspapermen. Accompanied by two or three 
intimate friends, he at once escaped from the jostling throng 
on the dock and rode uptown to the Democratic Club. Ob- 
viously, he shunned publicity of any kind. 

From the moment he landed, the Boss was engulfed by 
the raging torrent of Tammany politics. The local primaries 
were only two days hence, and the Democratic primaries of 
1901 were unusually important. Several of Croker's most 
trusted lieutenants were being opposed for re-election by the 
Sullivan faction. The strife had been bitter, and the out- 
come would weigh heavily at Tammany Hall. 

The fiercest, and the most vital, of these contests was 
that in the Second Assembly District, down on the lower East 
Side. It was traditional fighting-ground, for it was prac- 
tically the old Fourth Ward, whose stormy politics had en- 
livened New York's early days. The Second District was 
an historic survival from the past. Although, by this time, 
the East Side had been re-peopled by newer immigrant 
stocks, " The Second " remained almost as Irish as it had 
been half a century before. For many years, this Celtic 



stronghold had been ruled by a Tammany leader aptly 
named Patrick Divver. 

"Paddy" Divver, as everybody called him, was one of 
the old breed of saloon-keeping district leaders, governing 
his subjects in the rough yet paternal fashion of a Gaelic 
chieftain. They were his folk} of his own blood and faith. 
Together, they formed a compact clan, linked by the tight 
bonds of mutual understanding. Until this fateful year, 
no one had ever seriously challenged Paddy Divver's au- 
thority in his own domain. 

But now, "Paddy" was fighting for his political life. 
The challenger was " Big Tom " Foley, while behind Foley 
loomed the even more impressive form of " Big Tim " Sul- 
livan. And" the real cause of this local war was " Paddy's " 
loyalty to the Boss. 

Divver was Croker's staunch henchman. When nearly 
every other East Side leader had made terms with Big Tim, 
" Paddy " had stubbornly refused to divide his allegiance. 
The Second Assembly District had thus become a sort of in- 
dependent enclave in the Sullivan Empire, within which 
" The Big Feller's " writ did not run. 

And this was not "Paddy's" only offense against the 
overlord of the East Side. Too often he had heeded the 
plaints of parents anxious for the safety of headstrong daugh- 
ters, and curbed the activities of Red-Light Cadets. " The 
Interests " indignantly protested to Big Tim, their protector; 
but so long as Paddy Divver ruled, they could not work 
freely in his territory. 

The edict had gone forth, therefore, that " Paddy " must 
be overthrown. And " Big Tom " Foley was the man to do 
the job. 

The primary contest which ensued was an amazing battle. 


Every trick in the game of w^rd politics was played by both 
sides, and the humblest voter in the district was subjected 
alternately to blandishments, bribes, and threats. Sullivan 
money was flung around with reckless abandon. Diwer, 
though less well supplied with cash, touched every chord 
of local pride and sentiment. The motto emblazoned on his 
campaign banners was: T)on y t Vote the RecL-Laghts into the 
Old Fourth Ward! 

This was the situation which was put up to Croker the 
instant he stepped down the gang-plank. Diwer at once 
begged Croker to come to his aid. Sullivan, on his side, 
let the Boss know that he was out to " get " Diwer, and 
that if Croker stepped into the row, it would mean the open 
breach which the Boss had already done so much to avoid. 
Any one, no matter how exalted his station, who interfered 
south of 1 4th Street, did so at his peril. That was Sullivan's 
warning. And the returned Boss had less than forty-eight 
hours to decide! 

Big Tim had delivered a second ultimatum. And again, 
Croker side-stepped. The Boss declared himself officially 
neutral, and Paddy Diwer received only covert aid from 
headquarters. " Big Tim " was too big to be openly defied. 

The crucial day, September 17, arrived, and throughout 
Greater New York the polling-booths opened at sunrise. 
But the Second District of Manhattan had been astir since 
long before dawn. Shortly after midnight, dark figures had 
begun to trickle furtively into the district, coming mostly 
from the Bowery, the nearby Sullivan stronghold. As they 
passed under the street-lights, one would have noticed them 
to be short-statured, swarthy fellows 5 and if he knew his 
East Side thoroughly, he would have recognized them as 
Italian gunmen picked " repeaters " and the best " shock- 


troops" in Tim Sullivan's "army." Tim was taking no 
chances. He was sending Foley his " finest," commanded 
by the notorious gangster, Paul " Kelly " born Vaccarelli. 

By two o'clock in the morning, the invaders had formed 
in line before every polling-place. It was tiresome waiting 
but there were compensations. For soon, commissariat 
wagons rolled up, laden with hot coffee and sandwiches, 
smokes, whiskey, and even benches to sit on. Like all great 
commanders, Big Tim appreciated the truth of the military 
maxim that an army travels on its belly, and saw to it that 
his troops were well supplied. 

It was not long before Paddy Diwer and his staff were 
informed of the invasion. Crimson with wrath, the old 
chieftain gathered his clansmen about him and made ready 
for the fray. The official opening of the polls would be the 
gage of battle. 

Just before the " zero hour," platoons of police tramped 
heavily through the streets and took up their posts about 
the polling-places. This made no difference to the rival 
factions, and as soon as the polls opened, fighting began. 
Brawny Irish lads, overtopping the invaders by a head, 
rushed to break the waiting lines. 

Alas! The Diwerites found themselves everywhere out- 
numbered ; and their foes, while small in stature, were vet- 
erans at the game. At nearly every point the invaders held 
their ground, and the Diwerites were scientifically beaten-up 
or calmly blackjacked. Amid the riotous tumult, the blue- 
coated guardians of the peace stood impassive or looked 
elaborately the other way. They were Devery's men, and 
they had their orders. 

By 9 A.M., a big Foley vote had been cast, while few Div- 
verites had reached the polls. As the morning wore on, 


the clansmen were filled with despairing fury. Old-time 
residents of the district, surveying the scene, danced 'and 
gibbered with rage} but Big Tim's machine ground inex- 
orably on. 

In the forenoon, at a certain polling-place, Big Tom Foley 
and Paddy Divver met face-to-face. Turning to the election 
officials, Foley remarked sardonically: " Here's the man 
who said in the Democratic Club last week that you In- 
spectors would jump out of a ten-story window for him." 
" You're a liar! " shouted Divver, raising his fist. He got 
no further, for a flying-wedge of Kelly's gangsters tackled 
him and landed him out in the street. The incident was 

At noon, the commissariat again appeared, heavily 
guarded, and the gunmen were given a good lunch, with 
appropriate extras. About 3 P.M. rain began to fall on the 
Foley lines, and a few stragglers slunk off to nearby saloons} 
though the rest pulled down hats and turned up coat-collars, 
stolidly prepared to take a drenching. But Big Tim's com- 
missary department had thought even of this contingency} 
for soon brisk lieutenants appeared on the run, bearing 
bundles of umbrellas. 

Sometimes, however, the umbrellas never reached the 
lines j for in several instances lurking Diwerites rushed the 
bearer and bore him to the sidewalk. Reinforcements from 
both sides would arrive at the double, and a free fight would 
ensue. In the melee, however, the umbrellas met their 
doom. " Snap! " " Crack! " and when the fight was over, 
all that was left was tattered black cloth, splinters of wood, 
and twisted wire. 

The polls closed at nightfall, and it needed no prophet 
to foretell that Paddy Divver was undone. When the re- 


turns were tabulated, Big Tom Foley was declared the win- 
ner by a crushing majority of over three to one. 

That evening, the Foley headquarters blazed with light, 
while in the Diwer camp " Paddy " sat amid a circle of 
sorrowing friends and fluently cursed his enemies. To the 
reporters he said bitterly: " Foley beat me, but how did he 
do it? He brought in every crook he could lay his hands on, 
and even sent out of town for more. Devery was in the 
deal, and lined these repeaters up and protected them while 
they voted. Foley and Carroll rode around in the morning 
and handed out the stuff, so what could you expect? No, 
I won't do anything. It's up to headquarters. But mind 
you: it'll be Croker's turn next. This wasn't my fight ; it 
was Croker's. That combine is reaching out to control 
Tammany. I was beaten by these people and by Devery's 
police. Croker will believe some things now that he didn't 
believe before." x 

The downfall of Paddy Diwer echoed through Tammany 
Hall. Everybody knew that the Boss's authority had been 
set at naught; that he had not dared to rescue a faithful 
henchman; that loyalty to the Boss no longer paid at 
least, as against the Sullivan crowd. 

The effects were clearly apparent. Men who had hitherto 
obeyed the Boss's slightest nod, now argued with him. 
Leaders who had never once questioned his mandate, frankly 
criticized his orders. Tim Sullivan was openly insolent. 
Shortly after his triumph over Paddy Diwer, he brazenly 
told the reporters: " Croker ain't the whole thing! " 

Up at the Democratic Club, the Boss ruminated upon the 
ominous trend, portending the disintegration of his power. 
Never a word did he speak. Chewing endless black cigars, 
he screened himself behind a mask of silence. 


Yet behind this veil of inscrutability, the Boss was think- 
ing and acting. Only a fortnight, at most, remained be- 
fore the "slate" would be made up and the Mayoralty 
candidate chosen. In the framing of the ticket, the Sullivan 
faction obviously planned to have their say 5 and Croker, by 
himself, might be unable to block their game. So the Boss 
turned to his colleague " across the river," Hugh McLaugh- 
lin. With Tammany Hall divided against itself, the power- 
ful Brooklyn Boss and his Kings County Democracy were 
called in to redress the balance. 

Croker found the Kings County Democrats in a receptive 
mood. They had no use for Tim Sullivan and his crowd. 
They realized that the vice issue was rousing the people, and 
that if the Sullivan faction dictated the Democratic ticket, 
disaster would follow which would involve the Brooklyn 
Democracy as well as Tammany Hall. So when Croker 
told McLaughlin to suggest a Mayoralty candidate, the 
Brooklyn Boss named one who measured up to specifica- 

McLaughlin's nominee was Edward M. Shepard, a promi- 
nent Brooklyn lawyer. Mr. Shepard was undoubtedly the 
best candidate available, under the circumstances. Not only 
was he a man of unblemished personal and professional 
standing; he had always been considered a practical re- 
former. Mr. Shepard had advocated reform measures like 
the Merit System and the Australian Ballot; he had helped 
to purge Kings County of political corruption, and he had 
supported Seth Low, the Fusion candidate, four years be- 
fore. His scathing denunciations of Tammany on that occa- 
sion were on record, and indicated independence of Tam- 
many control. Being a resident of Brooklyn, he was not 
involved in Tammany's domestic feuds, and therefore was 


in no danger of being knifed by a disgruntled faction at the 
polls. Furthermore, he would not merely have the Kings 
County organization solidly behind him, but he might also 
be expected to run strongly in the outlying Boroughs, which 
had become restive under Tammany rule. 

This last feature was vital to Democratic success. In the 
previous Mayoralty campaign, Manhattan had been the de- 
cisive factor, and the tremendous plurality it had rolled up 
for Van Wyck and the entire Tammany ticket had ensured 
victory. Now, however, conditions were almost reversed. 
In Manhattan, Tammany feuds and discontent in the tene- 
ments made the local outlook uncertain. Unless the other 
Boroughs came through well, the Democratic ticket was 
beaten, and Fusion would win. 

For " Fusion " was a certainty. An impressive coalition 
had been formed, including the Republicans. Platt and the 
local machine hacks had learned their lesson. Their betrayal 
of Seth Low at the last election had almost disrupted the 
party. Furthermore, McKinley's assassination by a crazy 
fanatic had made Theodore Roosevelt President of the 
United States. And Roosevelt, the militant reformer, kept 
a hand on New York politics. Like Croker, Platt had made 
the sad discovery that his Boss-ship was on the wane. 

Seth Low was again the Fusion nominee, and his candidacy 
had the same strength and limitations. Mr, Low was the 
ideal of municipal reformers. He spoke learnedly and in- 
cisively on abstruse subjects like budget-planning and tax- 
rates, in a fashion that moved a polite audience to decorous 
applause. But at a popular mass-meeting, when the crowd 
yearned for oratorical fireworks, he never got a " big hand." 
In short: Seth Low was very competent, very dignified 
and rather dull. Devery, the eternal " wisecracker," made 


New York grin when he dubbed the Fusion nominee, 
"Little va! 

Fortunately for the Fusionists, their candidate for District 
Attorney, William Travers Jerome, was a " live-wire " who 
made up for Mr. Low's deficiencies in personal magnetism. 
Jerome, a Justice of the Court of Special Sessions, had been 
one of the first to enlist in the crusade against commercialized 
vice. Long before the campaign, he had been one of District 
Attorney Philbin's mainstays in the latter's efforts against 
prostitution and gambling. The previous June, Justice Je- 
rome had stated in a newspaper interview: " People are 
simply ignorant of conditions on the East Side. If these 
conditions existed in some other communities, there would 
be a Vigilance Committee speedily organized, and somebody 
would get lynched." 2 

This vigorous statement was but a pale reflection of Je- 
rome's campaign speeches. When the contest was at its 
height, he would speak half a dozen times every evening, 
careering through the streets in a racing automobile, to get 
from one hall to another on schedule. 

Jerome had the knack of dramatizing the sordid tragedy 
of the girl victims of commercialized vice, in such a way as 
to leave his audience raging against the politicians who pro- 
tected and fostered such woe. Even foreign-born audiences 
on the East Side, who could scarcely understand English, 
sensed his meaning and burned with indignation. Bearded 
Jews and swart Italians, fathers of growing daughters, 
sobbed and wailed as they listened to Jerome 5 recalled what 
they themselves had seen, or even suffered 5 and went home 
vowing that, come what might, Fusion should have their 

Jerome's tireless energy contrasted strangely with his 


delicate appearance. He looked so frail that, early in the 
campaign, Big Tim Sullivan remarked condescendingly: 
" Why, that feller couldn't strike a blow that would knock 
a hole through a pound of butter! " But after the fiery 
Justice had made his first whirlwind tour of the East Side, 
" Big Tim " hastily revised his observations. 

The Fusionists based their strategy on three main lines of 
attack: Protected Vice, Devery and Croker. From the 
first, the Boss was under heavy fire. When Seth Low ac- 
cepted the Fusion nomination, he stated: "The main issue 
of the campaign is the wresting of the city from those who 
permit one man to dominate the organization of his party 
in the interest c of his own pocket all the time '5 and, as if 
to add insult to injury, to do this from abroad, as though the 
proud city of New York had been reduced once more to the 
condition of a crown colony." 

The Boss was certainly in the limelight. Each day, the 
Fusion newspapers carried cartoons lampooning " The 
Squire of Wantage," together with his race-horses, his prize 
bulldogs, and even his pigs. Campaign posters and campaign 
ditties continued the story, and held up the Boss to mingled 
obloquy and ridicule. 

To all this, the Democrats replied in kind, and New York 
was deluged with the voluminous output of rival propa- 
gandas. Both sides had staffs of cartoonists, jokesmiths, and 
song-writers, who worked overtime and scored many a tell- 
ing hit. 

Perhaps the cleverest posters were those which played 
upon a commercial advertising theme. A leading soap con- 
cern chanced to be running a series of attractive advertise- 
ments in the form of pictures coupled with doggerel verse 
proclaiming the immaculateness of a place called Spotless 


Town. A Tammany cartoonist seized upon the idea and 
drew a poster depicting Spotter Town, wherein Mr. Low 
figured as a long-nosed Puritan, snooping into everybody's 
affairs, and prohibiting such venial sins as a game of penny- 
ante, a stolen kiss, or a Sunday glass of been 

But this poster had barely been distributed before a Fusion 
poster appeared, showing Spotted "Town and its ruler, a most 
unflattering caricature of Richard Croker j while below was 
this bit of verse: 

This is the Ruler of Spotted Town 
*And known as such the world around; 
He doesn't care -for such repute. 
For all he's aper is the loot. 
"But will he get the needed dough? 
Welly hardly y for we'll win with Low! 

Sallies like these injected a humorous touch into what was 
otherwise a fierce and feverish campaign. Croker, however, 
was in no mood to see the humor of the situation. As the 
great struggle neared its climax, the Boss's intuition^ which 
never failed in local politics, warned him that the tide was 
setting the Fusion way. And, in his heart of hearts, Croker 
must have known that Democratic defeat would mean also 
the end of his political career. 

Day by day, the Boss grew glummer and more morose. 
Unable to sleep, he would rise before dawn and stand si- 
lently at the windows of the Democratic Club, gazing out at 
street sweepers and passing milk wagons j or, again, with 
bowed head, he would pace the empty halls and club-rooms. 
Seemingly, he made no effort to conceal the strain under 
which he labored. 

And the strain was terrific j for the Boss was putting the 


last ounce of himself into the battle, grimly determined, 
either to win or to go down fighting. From early morning 
until far into the night, the Boss was at work, pouring men 
and money into Crucial districts 5 driving his lieutenants to 
their uttermost 5 tapping every channel of influence and 

The close of the campaign was enlivened by a startlingly 
humorous episode: Big Bill Devery blew up! Smarting 
under a particularly keen thrust of Jerome's, Devery vented 
his long-suppressed wrath to the reporters. Pulling at his 
huge mustaches, and interlarding his remarks with resound- 
ing oaths, the mammoth " Deputy " Police Commissioner 
thundered: "That man Jerome oughter be locked up on 
Ward's Island! He ain't sound mentally. There's some- 
thin 5 the matter with him. He's like the rhinoceros up in 
the Park. Every time he goes down under water he comes 
up with a gulp and blows it all over everybody. He's goin' 
around insultin' everything. . . It wouldn't take me ten 
minutes to go an' take him by the back of the neck an' lock 
him up. But that wouldn't do just now. . . Will they put 
me out Low and those fellers? G'wan! Never! 
Devery stays right here! " 3 

" Big Bill's " glaring indiscretion got him into trouble with 
his own crowd. Sjjgpard indignantly repudiated the asser- 
tion that Democratic victory would mean Devery secure 
in his job. Also, it was currently believed that <c Big 
Bill " was promptly summoned to the Democratic Club by 
the irate Boss, who realized the damage that Devery had 

Election day came; and before the tardy November sun- 
rise^ the battle of the ballots had begun. By noon, it was 
evident that both sides were polling a tremendous vote. As 




afternoon waned, the great city gave itself up to one of those 
stupendous " election nights " for which it had long been 

By sundown, streets and avenues resounded to the tramp 
of crowds. Along the principal crosstown thoroughfares, 
from 1 4th to I25th Streets, rivers of excited humanity, 
pouring steadily from the East and West Side, converged 
upon Broadway. In the nipping November air, urchins were 
wildly crying " Extra! " And when darkness had fallen, 
election bulletins began flashing on the big canvas screens 
in front of the newspaper offices. 

Soon Broadway was so jammed that the police could 
hardly clear passage for the street-cars. Herald Square was 
quite impassable. Even spacious Madison Square was filled 
with an immense multitude, eagerly watching election re- 
turns or gazing upward at the searchlight on the tower of the 
Garden, which, by the angle of its flickering beam, would 
announce the outcome. 

On this night, however, the crowds were not kept long in 
suspense. The first returns from Brooklyn showed that, 
even in his home territory, Shepard was running badly. 
When figures from the East Side tenement districts began 
to come in, veteran observers gasped in amazement ; for they 
disclosed a popular defection from Tammany such as no one 
then present had ever seen. Men looked at one another and 
murmured the word, "Landslide! " 

A landslide it was for Fusion. And as each successive 
bulletin emphasized the victory, with Brooklyn lost to 
Shepard, and Manhattan won by Low, the crowds were 
seized with a wild delirium. Horns, rattles, sirens, and 
cheering, roaring voices, blended in one vast diapason of 
sound. Impromptu Fusion parades sprang up like magic, 


the close-linked ranks swinging along in an ecstasy of joy, 
brandishing brooms and banners to the sky. 

At ten o'clock, Shepard conceded defeat. Seth Low re- 
ceived the tidings of victory in the library of his home, sur- 
rounded by his family and intimate friends. Cheering 
crowds soon gathered outside his door, swelled by delega- 
tions headed by brass bands, come to congratulate him on his 
success. What a contrast to the scenes of another November 
night, four years before! 

But down at Tammany Hall, all was bitterness and gloom. 
Shortly after the polls closed, the Tammany generals gath- 
ered around the long table in the Executive Committee 
Room to get the news from the front. The Boss had the 
seat of honor, directly opposite the whirring ticker that 
brought the returns. To right and left stretched a line of 
anxious faces, somewhat blurred by the haze of tobacco 
smoke which increasingly filled the room. Outside the Wig- 
wam, 1 4th Street was blocked by a dense, jostling throng. 
When the doors were opened, the crowd surged in, and the 
thunder of feet trooping upstairs to the big auditorium made 
a hollow, booming sound. 

Inscrutable, the Boss sat in his big armchair, a long black 
cigar tightly gripped between his teeth. Not a muscle of 
his mask-like face moved as the first ominous returns came in. 
Only when the dread tidings from Brooklyn and Manhat- 
tan's East Side arrived, did Croker begin to show signs of 
suppressed emotion. First, he shifted his cigar to the other 
side of his mouth; then he began figuring with pencil and 
paper; finally, he perched himself on the arm of his chair. 
Thus far, he had not spoken a word. 

But some of the Boss's lieutenants were not cast in his iron 
mould. Men gnawed their lips; bit their finger-nails; hung 


their heads and muttered together in low tones. Van Wyck, 
in particular, was ghastly pale and seemed on the verge of 

Only one man in this disconsolate gathering appeared ex- 
empt from the pall which was settling on his fellows. That 
man was Big Tim Sullivan. A sardonic smile lurking in the 
corners of his mouth, and a hard gleam in his eyes, " The Big 
Feller " strolled nonchalantly over to Croker. 

" Well, Boss," he remarked casually, cc you see my 
district came through o.k." Croker gave him a curt nod. 
Still, not a word. 

When one of his trusted friends appealed to him for his 
verdict, Croker broke silence: " I don't give it up yet. We 
always finish well." 

But ere long, semi-final returns quenched the last hope. 
Then the Boss slowly rose and said: " It would appear that 
Shepard is beaten. A change is a good thing sometimes 5 but 
Tammany Hall will be here when we are all gone." 

Then, still slowly, seemingly deep in thought, Croker left 
the Committee Room, walked out of Tammany Hall, and 
left for the Democratic Club, through the streets of that city 
whereof he was no longer master. 



IT is Derby Day the climax of England's racing season, 
Epsom Downs is thronged with a vast multitude. Hun- 
dreds of thousands are there assembled. His Majesty the 
King and 'Any the Coster j lords, ladies, and gentlemen; 
bank clerks and navvies, have foregathered in the wondrous 
fraternity of British sport. 

The horses appear. They are magnificent animals 3 the 
finest the British Isles can breed. Among them is a splendid 
three-year-old stallion. His name is Orby, and his owner is 
Mr. Richard Croker, who reared the colt at his stud-farm, 
Qlencairn, near Dublin, Ireland. 

Orby is not the Derby favorite 5 he is entered at odds of 
100 to 9. But he is the pride of a stud carefully bred over 
many years, and those who best know him believe in his 
racing powers. His master, assuredly, appraises him with a 
confident smile. 

Richard Croker has not changed much since he resigned 
his Tammany chieftainship nearly six years ago, shortly after 
his last great campaign. His beard is grayer, and his hair 
is almost white. Yet his face is ruddy and his eyes have the 
clear light of health. Obviously, a quiet, open-air life agrees 
with him. From under the brim of his silken beaver, the 
Ex-boss watches Orby. Not a muscle moves 5 just that in- 
tent, silent gaze. 



They are off! Down the course streams a blurr of horses 
and jockeys. Orby and his rider, clad in light blue silk, are 
lost in the straining ruck. The air vibrates with a vast mur- 
mur as the crowds, wrought to the highest pitch, follow the 
r^ce with their eyes; their hearts; their very souls. 

The first quarter is passed 5 the second; the third and 
round Tattenham Corner a mass of rushing horses, topped 
with the brilliant colors of silk-clad jockeys, thunders into 
the home-stretch. 

A close finish! The enormous multitude vibrates with 
passion. The diffused murmur deepens into a dull roar; 
muffled at first through straining throats, but rising rapidly 
towards a mighty crescendo. Ah, the hopes, the yearnings, 
the millions of pounds sterling that hang upon a stride taken 
in a pulse-beat! 

Then c< Orby wins! " "The American horse wins! " 
" Orby ! " " Orby ! " Orby ! 

Epsom Downs is a mad riot. Laborers, touts, Peers of the 
Realm, the King himself, are swept into a common welter 
of wild delirium. What matter that the winner was not 
the favorite; that he is an American horse, ridden by an 
American jockey? He has won handsomely, in a splendid 
spurt which bore him on to victory by two full lengths! So 
even the biggest losers shout, yell, cheer; wave hats, veils, 
handkerchiefs; acclaim Orby the hero of " The Tam- 
many Derby." For such is the nickname by which the 
great race of the year 1907 goes down in Britain's sporting 

Over the green turf of Epsom Downs the frantic multi- 
tudes are streaming. Amid the tumult, the stocky, white- 
bearded sportsman leads Orby past the grandstand, where 
Edward VII and his Court stand at attention to acclaim the 


victor. Mr. Croker raises his silk hat in silent acknowledg- 
ment, and the King returns the salute. 

So RICHARD CROKER attained the dearest ambition of his 
life the blue ribbon of the world's turf. None but a turf- 
man can understand what this means. To British sportsmen, 
the Derby is the highest goal. English gentlemen of wealth 
and ancient lineage have vainly pursued the silken token all 
their lives. English families of high degree have sought 
and dreamed of it for generations. Ancestral forests have 
been cut down and castles mortgaged to the hilt, that blighted 
turf ambitions might be repaired. Lord Roseberry remarked 
in the flush of his brilliant youth that the two objectives of 
his career were to be Prime Minister and to win the Derby. 
When both were his, Britain acclaimed him Fortune's fa- 
vorite. Yet a grim Tammany brave had, if anything, out- 
matched him in astounding success. 

From the moment that Richard Cfoker laid down the bur- 
den of his Tammany chieftainship in the spring of 1 902, he 
concentrated relentlessly upon his sporting goal. When the 
Ex-boss sailed for England, amid the plaudits of numberless 
friends and henchmen, he had said: " I am out of politics, 
and now I am going to win the Derby." And, five years 
later, he made good his word. To thronging friends and 
admirers on that memorable Derby Day, Croker exclaimed: 
" I have had some exciting experiences in my time. I have 
had my share of victories. But this is the greatest of all! " 

Croker's triumph was due to no chance fluke. For many 
years he had planned and prepared against the supreme hour. 
Dollars mounting into the hundred thousands had been 
lavishly spent in perfecting his stud. Famous stallions and 
brood-mares had been purchased at fancy prices 5 the ablest 


trainers and keenest jockeys had been in his pay. Every 
important race-track in America, England, and Ireland had 
seen his Yale-blue colors ride to victory. On the turf, as 
in politics, Croker's dogged will and tireless patience had 
achieved commensurate results. 

RICHARD CROKER outlived his hour of supreme triumph by 
nearly fifteen years. Yet this slow twilight of a long life 
merits scant notice and is tinged with a sadness almost sordid. 
Year after year, the Ex-boss followed the same general 
routine. Most of his time was passed on his estate at Glen- 
cairn, Ireland; though during the winter months he usually 
sojourned at West Palm Beach, Florida. 

These annual migrations were made via New York, and 
Croker liked to stop a week or two in the metropolis, to greet 
old friends and revive old memories. But each year the 
friends grew fewer, and the grizzled veteran became more 
and more a legendary figure, almost unknown to a city which 
was swiftly changing out of recognition from the New York 
of his day. 

Croker's declining years were soured by family troubles. 
Shortly after the death of his first wife, from whom he had 
been long estranged, he married again. His bride was nearly 
half a century his junior, and was of Indian descent. 

This second marriage involved the old man in acrimonious 
disputes with his children, which presently culminated in 
bitter litigation. A snarl of law-suits began, both in America 
and Ireland 3 and those legal tangles, persisting after his 
death, are even yet not wholly unravelled. When a friend 
once asked Croker his views on the outcome, the aged man 
answered with a flash of his dry humor: "The lawyers'll 
get all the money! " 


Legal difficulties were undoubtedly the proximate cause 
of Croker's end. Unexpectedly kept in America by court 
proceedings throughout the entire summer of 1921, Croker 
was determined to return to his home in Ireland, and finally 
sailed in mid-October. 

The voyage was unusually stormy, and Croker contracted 
a heavy cold. When the liner arrived off Queenstown, dis- 
turbed conditions in Ireland (then in the final throes of the 
rebellion) made it impossible for passengers to land 3 so 
Croker and his wife had to go on to Liverpool, and thence 
to Holyhead for the Dublin packet. Reaching Dublin late 
at night, the Crokers, like the other passengers, had to wait 
on a draughty pier while their luggage was examined. This 
renewed exposure aggravated Croker's condition, and he 
arrived at Glencairn a very sick man. 

The Ex-boss made a good fight for life. At times he 
seemed better, and on fine days of the soft Irish spring he 
would be wheeled out of doors, to get a bit of sun and breathe 
the mild air. A month before his death he was greatly 
cheered by the news that his favorite mare, Orlinda, had 
borne a very promising foal, sired by the Derby winner, 
Sunstar. So heartened was Croker by these glad tidings that 
he glimpsed fresh victories on the turf, and laughingly told 
a visiting friend that he hoped to attend the Dublin races 
that season. 

However, this rally proved to be the last flicker of a wan- 
ing vitality. In mid-April, Croker grew worse, and his 
physicians confidentially told his wife that the end was near. 
Nevertheless, the old man longed for sun and air, and on a 
fine morning only four days before his death he was wheeled 
out of doors to view his mausoleum, recently erected on the 
grounds of his estate. Silently he viewed it, built among 


rocks beside a shaded pool, a stone's throw from the grave of 
Qrby. Then, apparently sensing his approaching end, he 
murmured: " I am ready for it." 

On the afternoon of the last day of April, Richard Croker 
suddenly and painlessly passed away, in his eightieth year. 



1 According 1 to the census of 1790, Philadelphia was the largest city of 
the Union, with 42,000 population. New York ranked second with 33,000 
and Boston third with 18,000. 

2 For this early period, see especially: Agram C. Dayton, T/ie Last T)ays 
of Knickerbocker Life in &(ew Tork (New York 1872)5 Carlos Martyn, 
William E. Ttodge: ^be Christian {Merchant (New York 1890)5 Frank 
Moss, 'The ^American {Metropolis, 3 vols. (New York 1897). 

8 Charles Dickens, American Quotes (London 1842). 

4 The major portion of this survey will be found conveniently quoted in: 
Denis Tilden Lynch, 'Boss tfweed) pp. 127-128 (New York 1927). 

5 "An English Workman," London versus CH^ew Tork (London 1859). 
This small volume is little known and is today very rare. 

6 Ibid. p. 3. 

7 Ibid. p. 36. 

8 Ibid. p. 37. 
s Ibid. p. 37. 

10 Ibid, see pp. 2829. 

11 See especially: G. W. Edwards, "New York City Politics before the 
Revolution" 5 Political Science Quarterly: December 1921. 


1 Boarding-house runners were of various nationalities, but they usually 
specialized on their respective countrymen. Since the Henry C^ a y had an 
almost solidly Irish steerage, Irish runners came down to meet her. Had 
she come from an English port, English runners would have handled the job. 

The incidents of the landing of the Croker family have been reconstructed 
from fragmentary evidence, and therefore may not have occurred precisely as 
narrated. The evidence, however, does show that something very like this 
did happen to them; in other words, that they had about the average landing- 
experiences encountered by friendless immigrants of the period. I have, 
therefore, here taken some slight factual liberties, in order to portray their 
first experiences in New York with a vividness and local color otherwise 


NOTES 263 

2 These details regarding immigrant boarding-houses are taken from a 
book published in New York in 1849, entitled, O^ew Tork in Slices, by a 
writer anonymously signing himself "An Experienced Carver"} pp. 84-85. 
For further details concerning hardships of newly arrived immigrants, see the 
book by "An English Workman 5 ' quoted in the previous chapter; also: 
Joseph I. C. Clarke, ZMy Life and [Memories, pp. 71-72 (New York 1925) $ 
Alfred Henry Lewis, Richard Croker (New York 1901). 

3 Anonymous, "Squatter Life in New York "5 Harper's [Magazine: 
September 1880. For further data regarding squatters, see: James D. McCabe, 
5\>w Tork by Gaslight, p. 443 (New York 1882) ; Junius H. Browne, The 
Great [Metropolis, pp. 1-2 (Hartford 1869)$ Lyman Abbott, Reminiscences, 
p. 25 (New York 1915). 

4 An excellent historical survey of the New York tenement problem is to 
be found in: Jacob A. Riis, How the Other Half Lives, pp. 1-20 (New 
York 1890). For further data, see: Frank Moss, The American [Metropolis, 
Vol. II, pp. 357-367; Edward Crapsey, The Aether Side of &ew Tork, 
pp. 111-137 (New York 1872); Charles Stelzle, *A Son of the TSowery 
(New York 1926) ; Frederic C. Howe, The [Modern Qity and. Its "Problems 
(New York 1914). Also, Charles Dickens' celebrated description of the Five 
Points in his American [N^otes. 

5 Riis, op. cit. p. 20. 

6 Alfred Henry Lewis, Richard Qroker, p. 16. 


1 See: Charles Stelzle, <*A Son of the 'Bowery, pp. 16-17. This well- 
known preacher and social worker frankly relates his boyhood gang experi- 
ences, and is not at all ashamed of them. They were simply inevitable. 

2 Herbert Asbury, The Qangs of \>w Tork, p. 246 (New York 1928). 
This interesting volume is full of piquant details concerning the gang life 
of old New York. See also: Frank Moss, The ^American [Metropolis. 

3 Lyman Abbott in his Reminiscences, pp. 34-35, gives a vivid account 
of a great gang battle which he himself witnessed at close quarters. 

4 Cited by Moss, Vol. Ill, p. 51. 

5 Browne, The Qreat [Metropolis, p. 131. 

6 For these and other incidents of Croker's youth, besides Alfred Henry 
Lewis' biography of Croker, previously cited, see: Louis Seibold, "Richard 
Croker"j [Munsey's Magazine: August 1901; E. J. Edwards, "Richard 
Croker"; [McClure's [Magazine: November 1895; William Allen White, 
"Richard Croker"; [Munsey's [Magazine: August 1901: biographical sketch 
in The d^ew Tork Times of April 30, 1922. 

7 Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet in his autobiography (Incidents of [My 
<ife, New York 1911) bitterly assails the Republican authorities for what he 
considers their tyrannical and provocative attitude during the Civil War 
period. Dr. Emmet himself, as an anti-war Democrat, suffered official es- 
pionage and social ostracism. His charges, whether well founded or not, 
reveal a point of vi'ew seldom appreciated. 



1 James Bryce, The American Commonwealth^ Vol. II, p. 637 (New 
York 1888). For other comment on early political practices, see: Dorman 
B. Eaton, The Qovernment of {Municipalities, p. n (New York 1899)5 
Samuel P. Orth, The 'Boss and the {Machine, p. 27 (New Haven 1919). 

2 Orth, op. clt. p. 54. 

z Bryce, [Modern Democracies, Vol. II, pp. 109-110 (New York and 
London 1924). 

4 Denis Tilden Lynch, 'Boss Tweed (New York 1927). 

5 Ibid. pp. 37-39- 

6 Ibid. pp. 42-43. 

7 Ibid. pp. 49-50. 

8 Tlunkitt of Tammany Hall: A series of very plain talks on very practical 
politics, delivered by Ex-senator George Washington Plunkitt, the Tammany 
Philosopher, from his rostrum the New York County Court-House Boot- 
black-Stand and recorded by William L. Riordan (New York 1905). 

9 Ibid. 

10 Quoted in William T. Stead, Despairing Democracy, p. 42 (London 

11 William Allen White, "Croker"; fMcQlure's {Magazine: February 
1901; William L. Chenery, "So This is Tammany Hall!"; Atlantic 
^Monthly: September 1924. 

12 Quoted in Stead, Despairing Democracy, p. 50. 

13 The detailed evidence cited in M. R. Werner, Tammany Hall, p. 305 
(New York 1928). 

14 Cited by John D. Townsend, V^ew Tork in 'Bondage, p. 158 (New 
York 1901). 

15 Werner, op. cit. p. 307. 

16 Ibid. 

17 Cited by Matthew P. Breen^ Thirty Tears in &ew Tork Politics, 
p. 664 (New York 1899). 

18 Ibid. 


1 Werner, Tammany Hall, pp. 180-181. 

2 In those days, each party printed its own ballots and handed them to 
the voters. The possibilities for fraud and intimidation are obvious. 

8 This was not the precise line-up in 1872; the factions were even more 
shifting and complicated. But since we are not primarily concerned in this 
book with the political details of those years, we have sketched a foreshortening 
which gives the general situation for the period as a whole. 

4 His standard biography is: J. F. McLaughlin, The <ife and Times of 
John %elly (New York 1885). This work is frankly favorable to Kelly. 
Matthew P. Breen's Thirty Tears of O^ew Tork Politics paints a less roseate 

NOTES 265 


1 The dialogue and details of this episode are taken from the record of 
the trial. The best summary of the whole affair easily available is found in 
Werner, Tammany Hall, pp. 308-311. 

2 Werner, o. tit. p. 310 

3 The article here cited was written in the summer of 1901, at the height 
of Croker's power. 

4 Louis Seibold, "Richard Croker"; ZMunsey's [Magazine: August 1901. 

5 Ibid. 


1 Alfred Henry Lewis, The 'Boss: cAnd How He Qame to 'Rule 
Tork (New York 1904). 

2 Ibid. pp. 207-210. 


1 H. W. Walker, "The Trail of the Tammany Tiger "5 a series of 
articles in The Saturday Svening Tost; March-April 1914. 

2 The literature on the American Boss is extensive. Even foreign writers 
like Bryce and Ostrogorski have treated him at length. The best general 
works on the subject are: Samuel P. Orth, The 'Boss and the {Machine (New 
Haven 1919)5 William Bennett Munro, Personality and 'Politics (New York 
1924) ; Lincoln StefFens, 'The Shame of the Cities (New York 1904) \ Frederic 
C. Howe, 'The City'- ^he Ho$e of democracy (New York 1905). 

3 Alfred Henry Lewis, 'Richard Croker, p. 93 (New York 1901). 

4 Louis Seibold, "Richard Croker "$ ZMunsey's {Magazine: August 1901. 

5 Lewis, 'Richard Croker, p. 74. 

6 Lewis, The Boss, pp. 354355- 

7 The conversations from which the above excerpts have been taken were 
published by Stead in his magazine, the London 'Review of 'Reviews, in October 

8 Walker, of. cit. 


1 A good survey of radical tendencies in our national life may be found 
in Charles A. and Mary R. Beard, The 'Rise of ^American Civilization, 2 vols. 
(New York 1927). 

2 See the analysis of both Tammany and anti-Tammany psychology in 
Thompson, Tolitics in a 'Democracy, Chapters IX to XI. 

3 Beard, of. cit. Vol. II, pp. 396-397. 

4 William Allen White, " Croker "; ZMcClure's [Magazine, February 1901. 
6 Notably the so-called " Workingmen's " and " Equal Rights " move- 


ments o the early Eighteen-thirties. A good survey of both these movements 
in New York politics is found in Myers' History of Tammany Hall, Chapters 
X and XII. For the broader aspects, see Beard, o$. cit. 


1 The &ew Tork Herald: November 9, 1887. 

2 H. W. Walker, The Trail of the Tammany Tiger. 
8 The &dew Tork Herald: September 22, 1888. 

4 See account in The &e<w Tork Herald of October 6, 1888. 
s The &ew Tork Herald: November 7, 1888. 
6 Both matters will be discussed in later chapters. 


1 H. F. Gosnell, 'Boss 'Platt and His \>w Tork {Machine, p. 14 (Chicago 
1924). This scholarly biography, based on intensive research, is the best 
single source for a consideration of Platt, the man and his political career. 

2 Thomas Collier Platt, Autobiography (Compiled and Edited by Louis 
J. Lang) p. xxi (New York 1910). 

8 Gosnell, o$. cit. p. 15. 

4 Federal patronage as an important source of power to the Republican 
Party everywhere must not be forgotten. During the entire period from 
1861 until Cleveland's first inauguration in 1883, the Republicans were in 
power at Washington, and thus disposed of practically all Federal offices 
throughout the Union. The first Federal Civil Service Act was not passed 
until 1883. 

6 Theodore Roosevelt, Autobiography, p. 274 (New York 1913). 

6 Gosnell, p. 328. 

7 Roosevelt, Autobiography > 3 pp. 62-63. 

8 Ibid. pp. 63-64. 

9 As the city of Washington, D. C., is ruled by a Commission appointed 
by Congress. 

10 The forerunners of our modern primaries. 

11 Quoted from Gosnell, p. 85. 


1 The \>w Tork Herald: February 5, 1890. 

2 Ibid. February 6, 1890, 
8 Ibid. March 29, 1890. 

4 Ibid. April 30, 1890. 

5 Ibid. June 24, 1890. 

6 See metropolitan press accounts under date of June 28, 1890. 

NOTES 267 


1 ZMazef Investigation: Vol. I, p. 352 (State of New York, Official 
Publication; 5 vols. Albany 1900). 

2 "Plunkitt of 'Tammany Hall, pp. 3-10. 

3 Job E. Hedges (quoted from Werner, Tammany Hall, p. xv) . 

4 Theodore Roosevelt, ^Autobiography, p. 168. 
6 Townsend, ^e<w Tork in Bondage, p. 165. 

6 ZMazet Investigation: Vol. I, pp. 352-353. 

7 Ibid. Vol. I, p. 442. 

8 Walker, 'The Trail of the Tammany Tiger. 


1 Asbury, The Qangs of tf^evj Tork, p. 175. 

2 Junius H. Browne, The Qreat {Metropolis, pp. 25-26. 

3 Alexander Gardiner, fan field: Host to the (Nineties, p. 150. (New 
York 1930). 

4 New York, 1894. 

5 ZMazet Investigation: Vol. II, pp. 2351-2354. 

6 <exow Investigation: Vol. II, pp. 15381539. 


1 The first edition of James Bryce's ^American Co^-^onvuealth appeared 
in 1888, and Theodore Roosevelt's Sssays on "Practical 'Politics were pub- 
lished that same year. To cite a few other outstanding 1 examples of this new 
political literature, we may mention : Frank J. Goodnow, {Municipal "Problems 
(New York 1897); Dorman B. Eaton, The Qovernment of {Municipalities 
(New York 1899) ; two interesting series of articles on municipal affairs in: 
cAnnals of the ^American ^Academy of Political and Social Science, May 1893 
and May 1895. 

2 fMazet Investigation: Vol. I, p. 345. 
8 Ibid. p. 554- 

4 William Bennett Munro, "Personality in "Politics, pp. 8-9 (New York 
1924). His essay on The Reformer in "Politics, from which the above is 
quoted, is an excellent short survey of the subject. 

5 Ibid. p. 5. 

6 Werner, Tammany Hall, pp. 348-349. 

7 Ibid, p, 330. 



1 Quoted from Werner, Tammany Hall y p. 443. 

2 Sydney Brooks, " Tammany Again " j The Fortnightly Review (Lon- 
don) : December 1903. 

3 Ibid. 

4 Finley Peter Dunne, Essay entitled " Lexow " ; subsequently re-pub- 
lished in the volume of collected essays entitled: SVfr. T>ooley in the Hearts 
of His Countrymen (Boston 1899). 

5 Alfred Hodder, c/ Fight for the fity, pp. 79-81. 

6 Brooks, op. cit. 

7 Denis Tilden Lynch, "Boss Tweed, p. 131 

8 Werner, O'p. cit. p. 445. 

The C^e<w Tork Tribune: December 17, 1893. 


1 See illustrated article entitled, " Mr. Richard Croker in His English 
Home," published in 'Black and, White (London) : November 10, 1900. 

2 On this subject, see special article by Martin W. Littleton, entitled, 
"The Kings County Democracy," in: James K. McGuire, The 'Democratic 
Tarty in the State of d(ew Tork: Vol. II (New York 1905). 

3 Walker, The Trail of the Tammany Tiger. 

4 The #Ow Tork Tribune: September 8, 1897. 

5 Louis Seibold, "Richard Croker"; tMunsey's [Magazine: August 1901. 
For other accounts of this episode, see files of the metropolitan press for early 
October, 1897; especially, a good article in The &ew Tork Tribune of 
October 6, 1897. 


1 Gosnell, 'Boss Watt, p. 233. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Leading editorial in The American l^eview of Tfevi&ws: November 
1897 (Dr. Albert Shaw, editor). 

4 Quoted from Werner, Tammany Hall y p. 456. 

5 See The \>w Tork Tribune: October 23, 1897. 

6 Blake, History of the Tammany Society , p. 177. 


1 Walker, The Trail of the Tammany Tiger. 

2 The O^ew Tork Tribune: January i, 1898. 

3 The American Review of 'Reviews: February 1898, 

4 Walker, of. cit. 

NOTES 269 

5 William Allen White, 

6 Carl Schurz, "Our New Monarchy "5 Harder* $ Weekly: January 29, 


1 The #O<io Fork tribune: July 30, 1898. 

2 From an interview in The O^ew Tork Herald of May i, 1922. 

3 The \>w Tork Herald: September 28, 1898. 

4 Theodore Roosevelt, ^Autobiography, p. 296. 

5 The Ofew Tork Tribune: November 10, 1898. 


1 An amusing* account of Devery in action will be found in : Arthur Ruhl, 
"The Caliph and His Court "5 ZMcClure's ^Magazine: August 1901. 

2 Josiah Flint, "York: A Dishonest City"$ 3WcClure>$ Magazine: April 

3 See Chapter XIII. 

4 {Mazet Investigation: Vol. I, p. 7. 

5 Ibid. Vol. I, pp. 38 and 55. 


1 Walker, The Trail of the Tammany Tiger. 

2 Quoted from Werner, Tammany Hall, p. 441. 
8 Walker, op. dt. 

4 The Independent of August 1900. 

5 The &ew Tork Tribune: September 5, 1900. 

6 For two symposia of anti-Croker Democratic press comment throughout 
the Union, see: 'Public Opinion: July 19 and September 20, 1900. 

T The #Ozu Tork Tribune: October 4, 1900. 

8 See files of the metropolitan press for October 30, 1900. 


1 William Allen White, Choker. 

2 See a striking description of one of these celebrations in The Outlook 
of October 12, 1901. 

3 For a -good survey of this subject, see: George Kibbe Turner, "Tam- 
many's Control of New York City by Professional Criminals " ; 


^Magazine: June 1909. The career of Monk Eastman is fully treated in 
Asbury's The Qangs of O^ew Tork. 

4 See special article in The Ofyw Tork Tribune of February 21, 1901. 

6 Ibid. February 17, 1901. 

6 Ibid. February 24, 1901. 


1 All the New York papers " featured " the Foley-Divver contest, and 
gave lively accounts of it under dates of September 18 and 19, 1901. For a 
good general description, see Turner, of. cit. 

2 The CKiew Tork Times: June 27, 1901. 

3 This version is taken from The #{V<iy Tork Tribune of October 29, 1901. 


Abbott, Lyman. Reminiscences (New York 1915) 
An English Workman. London versus S^ew Tork (London 1859) 
An Experienced Carver. O^ew Tork in Slices (New York 1849) 
Anonymous. " New York City and Its Park " ; Atlantic {Monthly, April 


Anonymous. " Squatter Life in New York " ; Harper's {Magazine, Sep- 
tember 1880 
Anonymous. " The Dangerous Classes of New York " ; Jippletorfs 

Journal, February 19, 1870 
Anonymous. <c The Tammany Hall of Today " ; Harpers Weekly, July 

13, 1889 
Anonymous. " Through Broadway " ; ^Atlantic {Monthly, December 


Barnes, David M. The 'Draft Riots in Sfyw Tork (New York 1863) 
Bayles, J. C. " Crime and Vice in Cities "; Independent, May 25, 1911 
Beard, Charles A. and Mary R. The Rise of American Civilization 

(2 vols. New York 1927) 

bearing of the Hill-fyoker Feud, The; ^Public Opinion, July 19, 1900 
Blake, Euphemia Vale. History of the Tammany Society (New York 


bosses: Take Warning! Tublic Opinion, November 18, 1897 
Brace, Charles Loring. The "Dangerous (glasses of d^ezv Tork (New 

York 1872) 
Bradford, Gamaliel. " Our Failure in Municipal Government " ; Jlnnals 

of the jfmerican Academy, May 1893 
Breen, Matthew P. Thirty Tears of O^ew Tork Tolitics (New York 

Brooks, Sydney. "Tammany Again"; Fortnightly Review (London), 

December 1903 
Brooks, Sydney. " The Problem of the New York Police"; Nineteenth 

(Century and *After (London), October 1912 
Browne, Junius H. The Qreat {Metropolis; Jt {Mirror of O^ew Tork 

(Hartford 1869) 

Bryce, James. The American (Commonwealth (3 vols. London 
Bryce, James. {Modern 'Democracies (2 vols. New York 1924) 



Buel, C. C. "Blackmail as a Heritage; or New York's Legacy from 

Colonial Days "5 The Century, March 1895 
Gary, Edward. "Tammany, Past and Present"; The Forum, October 

Chimmie Fadden on Qrajt and the "Police-, Tublic Ofinion, October 31, 


Clarke, Joseph I. C. {My Life and {Memories (New York 1925) 
Coler, Bird S. "Commercialism in Politics"; The Independent, Octo- 
ber 31, 1901 
Commons, John R. "State Supervision for Cities"; Annals of the 

American Academy, May 1895 
Costello, A. E. Our Tolice Trotectors: Jt History of the New Tork 

"Police (New York 1885) 

Crapsey, Edward. The Aether Side of &(ew Tork (New York 1872) 
Croker, Richard. "Tammany Hall and the Democracy"; O^prth 

American Review, February 1892 
faker^ "Bryan, and Rational Politics; Review of Reviews, February 


Croker System, The; The Ration, April 20, 1899 
Croker' s greatest Victory The Derby, The Literary digest, June 15, 


Croker' s Testimony; The Outlook, April 29, 1899 
Curran, M. P. " Tammany Hall and the Catholic Church "; <Donahoe's 

{Magazine, November 1901 
Davenport, Frederick M. "Al Smith and the Human Side of Tam- 

^many"; The Outlook, July 31, 1918 
Davis, Hartley. "Tammany Hall"; Munsefs Magazine, October 

Dayton, Agram C. The Last Days of Knickerbocker Life in New Tork 

^ (New York 1872) 
Denison, Lindsay, "Scenes from a Great Campaign"; The World's 

Work, December 1901 

Desperate Tlight of d^ew Tork &ty, The; The &ntury, October 1901 
Dickens, Charles. American 3{ptes (London 1842) 
'Doom o/ the 'Boss, The; Qunton's ^Magazine, April 1901 
Duer, William A. Reminiscences of an Old O^ew Torker (New York 

Dunne, Finley Peter. {Mr. T>ooley in the Hearts of His Countrymen 

(Essay entitled: "Lexow." Boston 1899) 
Eaton, Dorman B. The government of {Municipalities (New York 


Edwards, E. J. "Tammany"; {Metre's {Magazine, December 1894 
Edwards, E. J. "Richard Croker as Boss of Tammany Hall"; 
e's {Magazine, November 1895 


Edwards, G. W. "New York City Politics Before the Revolution"; 

"Political Science Quarterly, December 1921 
Emmet, Dr. Thomas Addis. Incidents of {My Life (New York 

Fassett Investigation. Testimony Taken before the Senate (Committee on 

Cities, "Pursuant to Resolution ^ doped January 20, 1890. (5 vols. 

Albany 1891) 
Fawcett, Edgar. " Plutocracy and Snobbery in New York " ; The vflrena, 

July 1891 
Flint, Josiah. " c York,' A Dishonest City" ; IMcQlure^s {Magazine, 

April 1901 
Foord, John. The Life and 'Public Services of Andrew Haswell Qreen 

(New York 1913) 
Ford, James L. "New York of the Seventies"; Scribner y s Magazine, 

June 1923 
Fosdick, Raymond B. "The Police Scandal and the Good Old Days"; 

The Outlook, October 19, 1912 

Foster, G. G. 3^fw Tork by Qaslight (New York 1850) 
Gardiner, Alexander, anfield, Host to the {Nineties. The True Story 

of the Qreatest Qambler (New York 1930) 
Godkin, Edwin Lawrence. Troblems of ^Modern democracy (New York 


Goodnow, Frank J. {Municipal "Problems (New York 1897) 
Goodnow, Frank J. {Municipal (government (New York 1909) 
Gratacap, L. P. The Political {Mission of Tammany Hall (New York 


Gratacap, L. P. The ^Political {Mission of Reform (New York 1895)* 
Hapgood and Moskovitz. Uf from the^ity Streets: Alfred 8. Smith 

(New York 1927) 
Hawley, Walter L. " The Strength and Weakness of Tammany Hall"; 

O^prth American Review, October 1901 

Headley, J. T. The Qreat Riots of d^eto Tork (New York 1873) 
Hendrick, Burton J. " The Twilight of Tammany Hall "; The World's 

Work, February 1914 

Hickey, John J. Our ^Police Quardians, History of the "Police 'Depart- 
ment of the fyty of &(ew Tork, Qompled and Written by Officer 

" 787," John J. Hickey, Retired (New York 1925) 
Hodder, Alfred, JT Fight for the Qity (New York 1903) 
Hone, The Diary of Philip. Edited and published in 1 889 
Howe, Frederic C. The tyty: The Hope of 'Democracy (New York 

Howe, Frederic C. The ^Modern (jity and Its 'Problems (New York 

Howe, Frederic C. The Confessions of a Reformer (New York 1925) 


Hudson, William C. Random Recollections of an Oil Political Reporter 

(New York 1911) 

Ingersoll, Ernest, e/f Week in ${ew Tork (New York 1892) 
Ivins, William M. {Machine Tolitics and IMoney in Sections in S^ew 

Tork fay (New York 1887) 

" Juvenal." Jin Snglishman in [H^ew Tork (New York 1901) 
Lexow Investigation. Report and Proceedings of the Senate (Committee 
JL^ointed to Investigate the 'Police 'Department of the ity of 
3^ew Tork (5 vols. Albany 1895) 

Lewis, Alfred Henry. Richard (jroker (New York 1901) 
Lewis, Alfred Henry. The Boss, and How He ame to Rule 3^ew 

Tork (New York 1903) 
Low, A. Maurice. " Tammany Hall: Its Boss, Its Methods, and Its 

Meaning", The World's Work (London), September 1903 
Martyn, Carlos. William 8. 'Dodge, The Christian ^Merchant (New 

York 1890) 
Matthews, Franklin. " < Wide-Open ' New York"; Harper's Weekly, 

October 22, 1898 
{Mayoralty am$aign of 1897, The*, Review of Reviews (Dr. Albert 

Shaw, Editor) (November, December 1897) 
{Mayoralty am<]>aign of 1901, The-, Review of Reviews (Dr. Albert 

Shaw, Bditor) (November, December 1901) 

Mazet Investigation. Report of the Special Committee of the Assembly 
A pointed to Investigate the Tublic Offices and 'Departments of the 
City of SJ^ew Tork and of the Bounties therein Included (5 vols. 
Albany 1900) 

McCabe, James D. 3^ew Tork by Qaslight (New York 1882) 
McGuire, James K. The democratic 'Party of the State of 3^ew Tork 

(3 vols. New York 1905) 

McLaughlin, J. F. The Life and Times of John Kelly (New York 1885) 
Merriam, Charles Edward. The American Tarty System (New York 


Merriam, Charles Edward. American Political Ideals (New York 1920) 
Merwin, H. C. "Tammany Hall "; Atlantic Monthly, February 1894 
Merwin, H. C. " Tammany Points the Way "; Atlantic {Monthly -, No- 
vember 1894 
Morrissey, John. John fMorrissey, His Life, Battles ; and Wrangles (New 

York 1881) 
Moss, Frank. The American {Metropolis: S^ew Tork City Life in Ml 

Its Phases (3 vols. New York 1897) 
Mumford, John K. " Election Night in New York "; Harder* s Weekly 

November 16, 1901 

Munro, William Bennett. 'Personality in Politics: Reformers, Bosses, and 
Leaders. What They <Do and How They <Do It (New York 1924) 


Myers, Gustavus. History of Tammany Hall (New York 1901; revised 

edition 1917) 
Myers, Gustavus. " The Secrets of Tammany's Success"; The- Forum, 

June 1901 

Myers, Gustavus. "The New Tammany"; 'The Century, August 1926 
" 3^ew " Tammany, The; Biographical Sketches of Its Leaders (New 

York 1890) 

5^ew Tammany, The; Tublic Opnion, January 23, 1902 
Oberholzer, E. P. " Home Rule for Our American Cities"; Annals of 

the American Academy; May 1893 

Orth, Samuel P. The Boss and the {Machine (New Haven 1919) 
Ostrogorski, M. 'Democracy and the Organization of Political "Parties 

(2 vols. New York 1902) 

Parkhurst, Rev. Charles H. Our Fight with Tammany (New York 1895) 
Parkhurst, Rev. Charles H. {My Forty Tears in O^etv Tork (New York 

Platt, Thomas Collier. The Autobiography of Thomas jollier Platt; 

compiled and edited by Louis J. Lang (New York 1913) 
Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, e/f Series of Very Tlain Talks on Very Trac- 

tical Politics, 'Delivered by ex-senator Qeorge Washington 'Plunkitt, 

the Tammany Thilosofher, from His Rostrum the Q^ew Tork 

Qounty Court-House Bootblack-Stand and Recorded by William 

L. Riordan (New York 1905) 

Tolitical losses a S^ecessary Svil-, The Banker *s {Magazine, June 1896 
"Political {Mission of Tammany Hall, The: Ji Tract for the Times (New 

York 1892) 

Riis, Jacob A. How the Other Half Lives (New York 1890) 
Roosevelt, Theodore. Sssays on Practical "Politics (New York 1888) 
Roosevelt, Theodore. American Ideals (New York 1897) 
Roosevelt, Theodore. Autobiography (New York 1913) 
Ruhl, Arthur. "The Caliph and His Court"; fMcClwrfs {Magazine, 

August 1901 
Schurz, Carl. "Our New Monarchy"; Harper's Weekly, January 29, 


Seibold, Louis. "Richard Croker"; ZMunsey's {Magazine, August 1901 
Sherman, P. Tecumseh. Inside the {Machine: Two Tears on the Board 

of Mermen, 1898-1899 (New York 1901) 

Smith, Alfred E. Uf to 3^ow: *An Autobiography (New York 1929) 
Some Things Richard Broker Has Said and "Done. Published by the City 

Club of New York, July 1901 
" Spectator." " ' The Big Feller ' Celebrates "; The Outlook, October 12, 


Steffens, Lincoln. The Shame of the fyties (New York 1904) 
Steffens, Lincoln. The Struggle for Self-government (New York 1906) 


Stead, William T. Ttesfairing 'Democracy (London 1897) 

Stead, William T. "Richard Croker"; Review of Reviews (London), 

October 1897 

Stelzle, Charles. *A Son of the <Bowery (New York 1926) 
Tammany a [Rational {Menace^ Review of Reviews, November 1900 
Tammany ^folo gists; The Station, January 26, 1893 
Tammany Banquet, The; Tub lie Opnion, April 20, 1899 
Ten ^Months of Tammany. A Pamphlet Published by the City Club of 

New York (New York 1901) 

Thompson, Daniel Greenleaf. 'Politics in a Democracy (New York 1893) 
Tilden, Samuel J. The O^ew Tork ity Ring: Us Origin, {Maturity, 

and Fall (New York 1873) 
Tilden, Samuel J. Letters and Literary ^Memorials of Samuel J. Tilden. 

Edited by John Bigelow (2 vols. New York 1908) 
Townsend, John D. 3^ew Tork in Bondage (New York 1901) 
Triumph of Reform, The: J[ History of the Cfreat 'Political Revolution, 

November 6, 1894 (New York 1895) 

Turner, George Kibbe. "Tammany's Control of New York by Pro- 
fessional Criminals" 5 {McQlure's {Magazine, June 1909 
Tweed Ring Investigation. Report of the Special Committee of the "Board 
of JiUermen cfiffointed to Investigate the " Ring " Frauds; To- 
gether with the Testimony Elicited during the Investigation. Board 
of Aldermen, January 4, 1878, Document No. 8, New York 1878 
"Volunteer Special." The Volcano Under the ity (New York 1887) 
Walker, Harry Wilson. " The Trail of the Tammany Tiger "; Saturday 

Evening Tost, March-April 1914 
Walling, George W. Recollections of a 3^ew Tork hiej of Tolice (New 

York 1887) 
White, Frank M. " When Clubs Were Trumps "5 The Outlook, April 7, 


White, William Allen. " Croker "; IMcQlur^s {Magazine, February 1901 
White, William Allen. {Masks in a "Pageant (essay on Platt) (New 

York 1928) 

Wilson, Charles G. " New York City in 1848 "; The Independent, De- 
cember 10, 1908 


Files of the New York press ; especially of the Svening Tost, Herald, 

Times, Tribune, and World. 
The File of The Tammany Times, while inacessible as a whole, yields 

much information. 



Baldwin, "Lucky," 133, 140 
Bowery (The), 27, 28, 30, 131, 177, 

184, 231-236, 243 
Breen, Matthew S., 240 
Broadway, 6-7, 9, 21, 27, 58, 132, 

184, 253 
Bryan, William Jennings, 172, 216 

222, 225-227, 236 

Canfield, Richard, 133-134 

Carroll, John F., 201 

Choate, Joseph, 1 1 8 

Civil War (The American), 32, 34, 

37, 99, 100, 133, 171 
Clay, Henry, 37 
Cleveland, Grover, 65, 66, 72, 87, 

89-93> 95-96 
Cockran, Bourke, 71, 73, 74, 92, 


Coler, Bird S., 223-224, 240 
Croker, Eyre Coote (father of Rich- 
ard), 2-3, 15-20 


Daly, Joseph F. (Judge), 201- 


Depew, Chauncey M., 200 
Devery, William S. ("Big Bill"), 

139, 206-209, 226, 237~ 2 39, 244, 

246, 248, 250, 252 
Dewey, George (Amiral), 222 
Dickens, Charles, 9 
Divver, " Paddy," 242-246 
Draft Riots, 3134 

Eastman, " Monk," 234 
Erie Canal, 5-7 

Fassett Investigation, 96, 99, 112, 

^114, 118, 135, 148 
Fifth Avenue, 7, 22 
Fire Department, 6, 10-11, 26, 30 
Fiske, "Jim," 38 
Five Points (The), 8, 19, 27, 89, 

131, 231 

Flint, Josiah, 208-209 
Flower, Roswell P., 147, 191 
Foley, "Big Tom," 231, 242, 244- 

Fourth Avenue Tunnel Gang, 30, 


Fourth Ward, 22, 241, 243 
Fremont, John C., 100 
"Fusion," 95-96, 150156, 247-253 

Gangster, 25-27, 59 

Gardiner, Asa Bird, 178, 182, 185, 

208, 236 

Gardner, Charles W., 136-137 
Gas House District, 20, 40, 45, 48-49 
Gates, John W., 133-134 
George, Henry, 8486, 179-182 
Gettysburg (Battle of), 33 
Gilroy, Thomas F., 71, 96, 113, 148 
Grace, William R., 64, 67, 70, 91 
Grady, Thomas F., 184 
Grant, Hugh J., 71-74, 9 2 ~9 6 , I]CI > 

118, 132, 128, 147, 152, 172 
Gunmen, 233-234, 243-246 




Hanna 3 Mark, 225 

Harrison, Benjamin, 93, 232 

Harrison, Carter, 183 

Hess, "Big Jake," 107 

Hewitt, Abram S., 53-56, 63, 84- 

86, 91-93, 179 
Hill, David B., 72-73, 89, 91, 171, 

197-202, 217-224 
Hodder, Alfred, 1 60 
Huntington, C. P., 127 

Ice Trust jScandal, 220, 225, 227 
William M., 95, 118 

Jefferson, Thomas, 4, 179, 182 
Jerome, William Travers, 249, 252 


Keene, James R., 127 

Kelly, "Honest John," 22, 51-67, 

70-74, 79, 87, 89, 91, 116, 123, 

177, 196 

Kelly, "Pat," 29 

"Kelly," Paul ( Vaccarelli) , 244-245 
Knickerbockers, 5-7, 12 

Laborites, 85-88, 179 

Lauterbach, Edward, 180 

Lexow Investigation, 123, 135, 139- 

140, 147-148, 151-152, 158 
Low, Seth, 178-180, 184, 197, 247- 



Marcy, William, 37, 67 

Martin, James J., 176 

Mazet Investigation, 120, 123-126, 

i37> H3> 211-214, 2*7 
McCann, Patrick, H., 115-119 
McKinley, William, 172, 226, 248 

McLaughlin, Hugh, 171, 196, 214, 

225, 247 

Meyer, Peter F., 124-125 
Miles, Nelson A. (General), 222 
Morse, Charles W., 214 
Moss, Frank, 120, 124-126, 143 
Mugwumps, 65, 68, 72-73, 78, 

Murphy, Edward, 72, 127, 149, 202, 
2 i 7-2 i 8 

Nixon, Lewis, 228-229, 236-239 


O'Brien, "Jimmy," 40, 44-50, 52- 
55) 61 

Parkhurst, Charles H. (Reverend), 

103, in, 135-137? 145-148, 150, 

152, 166 

Philbin, Eugene A., 237, 249 
Platt, Thomas Collier, 99-113, 121, 

135, H6, 150-152, 157) 170, iSo- 

183, 197200, 213, 224, 248 
Plunkett, George Washington, 40, 45, 

121, 123, 150, 156 
Police Department, 6, 9, 10, 23, 25- 

26, 54-55) 139) 152? *54) 164, 

199, 228 


Raines Law, 165-166 

"Red Light Cadets," 234, 242-243 

Reform, 96, 98, 141, 153, 156-157, 

178, 182, 185, 2O6207, 212, 
2 3 6 

Repeaters, 45-46, 53~54> 86, 243 

Riis, Jacob, 21-22 

Ripper Bills, 49 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 85, 103, 107 
108, 122, 154, 164, 172, 178, 
199-202, 204-205, 225-226, 236 
237) 249 

Rynders, Isaiah, 36-37) 39> 45> 233 



Sheehan, John C., 174, i75> ^77 
Shepard, Edward N., 179, 247, 253- 


Squatters, 18-19, 4 

Strong, William L., 150-151, 154, 

i56-i57> I<52 > l6 4> 167, 170, 172, 

Sullivan, "Big Tim," i74~i77> 189, 

209, 230-239, 242-246, 250, 255 

Tenements, 21-22, 43, 215, 232, 234 
Tilden, Samuel J., 64, 87, 89 
Tracy, Benjamin F., 180 
Tweed, William Marcy, 17, 22, 37- 

39> 43, 48-505 63, 70, 74, 87, 89, 

119, 123, 181, 214, 229 

Van Wyck, Augustus, 202, 204-205, 

Van Wyck, Robert C., 179, 184- 

187, 190-192, 206, 213-214, 223, 

226-228, 235, 237, 239, 248, 



Waring George E. (Jr.), i55> *57 

Watterson, Henry, 222 

Weed, Thurlow, 101 

Whitney, William C., 64, 127, 172 

Whyo Gang, 231 

Williams, Alexander S. (Captain), 

i32> 154 
Wood, Fernando, 10, 39, 163